So I’ve had a chance to recover from last weekend. It consisted of three days of rock and roll on the Steelhouse Mountain near Ebbw Vale in South Wales. Next year’s event will be the eighth running of the Festival and it will be be another belter but I feel that after this weekend, questions have been raised over the viability of the site and size of the event of which reports suggest welcomed around 17,000 fans.
Please let me be clear that this isn’t a bash at the Festival. I love this weekend and will be signing up for another trip up the mountain at the same time next year.
The first sign came as the gates opened on the Friday afternoon. A police patrol car appeared at the top of the mountain as it appears that traffic had come to a standstill at the bottom and it was blocking the main road. It feels that the organisers didn’t consider the number of punters that would make it to the event for freebie Friday. This, coupled with the weather (which clearly I’m NOT blaming the organisers for), made the car park unusable very rapidly and this was only Friday.
The pathways to the arena and camp grounds quickly became muddy and slippery, the entrance to the arena was on a slope and again became muddy and possibly a hazard for some of the more elderly and infirm of the festival attendees. I’m glad to hear that there were no injuries reported as a result of this
Punters had to park their vehicles on the main road that runs around the site. This meant that long walks were in store for those who had arrived late or even had come up just for the Sunday to see Saxon.
So, I have a number of questions about the future of the festival and how we can assist the Steelhouse Family.
Has this festival outgrown itself?
Is this festival too big for it’s current location? Don’t get me wrong, we love driving up the mountain every year but with this years conditions (not for the first time) has the festival outgrown the site and should they be looking for an alternative venue in 2018 or even a year off to let the venue recover?
Should the team now look to charge for parking at the site?
While the festival charges for camping, should they also charge an extra £15 per vehicle for parking over the three or four days of the festival? If this money could go to a way of draining the ground or providing a hard standing is it worth paying the extra? What we need to take into account again is that the festival is held on a working farm.
Should the team look to charge for the Friday freebie?
Would this enable the easier flow of cars into the site if an extra £20 was charged for the Friday night? would this discourage early birds to attend the festival and instead arrive on the Saturday?
Should the site open on Thursday to move people in?
Should an extra day be made available to punters to get up the mountain and into the site to enable them to set up on the Thursday afternoon / evening? No music, just an evening to get set up and ready for the weekend to come.
I’m not looking to offend the organisers with this article. I know that they do an amazing job. The volunteers in the Steelhouse family are worth their weight in gold and I applaud and understand how vital they are to this event.
I hope that this may just spark a bit of a debate as to how the festival could be improved.