The Forest Row Festival Committee has taken the decision that we will not be running a Festival in 2018. The experience of running the Festival is overwhelmingly positive, and we continue to enjoy mostly very positive feedback about the event, which is the highlight of the social calendar for the village. However, over the last few years, as the Festival has grown, we have seen a noticeable increase in anti-social behaviour around the Festival weekend. This has created a major headache for us, the organisers.
Running a Festival in 2018 that would have satisfied the greater scrutiny from Wealden District Council, the Police and the Parish Council would have required us to introduce significant changes to the event, such as erecting a fence around the Green, charging admission, or implementing a much earlier curfew. We, the committee, don’t feel that these changes are in keeping with the spirit of the Festival.
It is also increasingly apparent that the Festival organisers will be held responsible for general disorder within the village over Festival weekend, regardless of whether it occurs on the Green, or involves alcohol purchased from the official bar. Whether or not you think it’s fair that the Festival is blamed for everything that happens in Forest Row over the weekend, it is certainly true that the Festival has become a magnet. The Festival in its current format has probably outgrown the Green.
The final consideration is ours personally: this isn’t that much fun any more. For a small team of volunteers, the growing burden of negotiating with the licensing authorities, police and parish council, has become a year-round process, whereas it used to just involve a few months’ work. Furthermore we find ourselves approaching this year’s event not with the excitement of running another joyous community event, but with trepidation of what the more anti-social elements of our community might get up to over the weekend that will make the Festival experience an unpleasant one for attendees, stallholders and organisers, and land us in ever deeper hot water with the powers-that-be.
With the above in mind, we think it’s best to take a fallow year in 2018, following the examples of all the best festivals! We will continue to meet up during 2018 to discuss possible alternatives for 2019. In particular we’ll be considering new venues and formats. We’re also looking for more people to get involved with the 2019 event. Any suggestions (and particularly offers) greatly appreciated. So please do get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a great idea for the 2019 festival or want to participate. We want to be back with a bang in 2019.
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The Forest Row Festival Committee