Churches help as Weymouth Festival goes bust
When Weymouth’s Bayside Festival for the Olympics went into liquidation, Christians from the area quickly came to the rescue of shocked stallholders and security staff.
Festival organisers suddenly closed their gates on Friday, blaming poor attendance. However, church volunteers stepped in to support the confused and angry exhibitors and traders with free drinks and a listening ear. The event had been due to run for the duration of the Olympics.
‘Many of these traders, exhibitors and security staff face losing a lot of money as they’ve paid for pitches and lost potential takings,’ said Rev Anni Douglas, co-ordinator of Weymouth and Portland churches’ Refresh 2012. ‘So we sent our volunteers round the site to see how people were feeling, listening to them and providing refreshments. They really appreciated it and we had a good response.’
Refresh 2012, set up by the local churches to provide activities, youth events and exhibitions at the Olympic sailing site, were also hit by the closure. They had set up Bedouin tents on the festival site, offering a quiet zone for visitors to relax, have hand and foot massages.
‘We’ve now had to hire a replacement tent which we’re hoping to put up in the town centre,’ said Anni. ‘It’s going to cost us an extra £500 and we have no idea at the moment where we’re going to get the money. But we’re going ahead in faith.’
Refresh 2012 had offered to meet with the festival organisers Mainsail Ltd and the borough council on Friday to try to rescue the event. But their offer to mobilise an army of 300 local church volunteers to run the site and keep it going fell on deaf ears.
The festival had attracted 17,000 fewer visitors in the first three days than predicted. As a result, Organisers Mainsail Ltd had reduced the admission price and numbers had begun to pick up. But it came too late for the events company who closed the doors on Friday.
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