TWO of Stratford’s most popular summer festivals have fallen prey to covid for the second year running.
Organisers have decided to pull the Festival of Motoring and the River Festival once again as covid continues to cause uncertainty. The news comes just 24 hours after the announcement that Glastonbury Festival has also been cancelled for a second year.
The Festival of Motoring traditionally takes place over the May bank holiday weekend and is seen by many as the official start of the season in Stratford – attracting car fans from all over the UK. In early July, tens of thousands descend on the town for the award-winning River Festival which is regarded as one of the highlights on the town’s summer calendar.
Stratforward BID director Joseph Baconnet said: “This has been an incredibly difficult decision which we have not taken lightly. Both events are massively popular with locals and visitors alike and provide a huge economic boost for the town.
“However, none of us know how long the current lockdown restrictions will be in place or what restrictions there will have to be in the coming months as lockdown eases. However, it seems irresponsible to plan for events like this that encourage huge numbers of people to gather together against a backdrop of what is currently going on.
“Events of this scale take many months to organise and are costly in both monetary and resource terms. A huge number of our members that fund our activities are currently not allowed to operate, so have no income and as a result our income has been drastically affected as well. We cannot afford to risk ploughing money and time into projects that might not be permitted to go ahead.”
Despite the news, the company remains hopeful the third major BID event of the year – Stratford Town Centre Food Festival – might still be viable in September. Stratforward also plans to plough some resources normally used for these cancelled events into activities and campaigns to help Stratford and its businesses get back on their feet as restrictions ease.
Mr Baconnet added: “This is the one silver lining. By pulling these two events we can be more flexible with our resources and can create a greater emphasis on marketing and directly supporting Stratford’s town centre businesses. As things change over the coming months we will work with our members and other stakeholders to ensure town is in the best shape possible to welcome people back. For our locals, please continue to support local businesses – it is a crucial key to help their survival.”
Visit www.stratforward.co.uk for more information.