Wimborne Folk Festival could be replaced with new event

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By Stour & Avon Magazine | Friday, August 24, 2012, 11:00

THE last bell has rung for Wimborne Folk Festival in its present form with organisers saying that businesses have failed to support the event which has brought national and international musicians and dancers to the town every year since 1980.

The festival was organised by founder Brian Bisp and his wife Maria, together with Les and Linda Wild.

Maria said: "After a lot of headaches and heartaches, all four of us have decided to retire.

"We are all volunteers and one of the problems has been to raise funds. Businesses said they didn't need to advertise in the programme as they got enough trade from the folk festival anyway.

"Many of them made a lot of money as a result of the folk festival but were not prepared to support it."

The folk festival has had detractors, mainly those who were unhappy with vandalism that occurred in the evenings.

Maria continued: "We have had a real rapport with the police who recognised that the festival's outdoor activities finished at 6pm, with other events such as concerts taking place indoors."

This year, although arrests were down, damage to Wimborne in Bloom's flower displays were the worst ever.

"I was so hurt to find out that fully planted barrels were destroyed and hanging baskets ripped down. I felt so guilty and offered to help Anthony Oliver the chairman of Wimborne in Bloom to replace them," Maria said.

"Unfortunately people had come to think of the Wimborne Folk Festival as an event filled with booze and people going stupid."

She added that had they tried to maintain a high standard, bringing in professional concert artists, but this year they reduced the programme to cut costs.

"It would have been good if we could have had some help from The Chamber of Trade and Commerce or Wimborne BID," she continued.

Brian Bisp, who is now 76, had a stroke some years ago, but still took an important role in the festival.

"Brian is very upset as it was his baby," said Maria, adding that they always appreciated the huge support from the Stour and Avon Magazine which always promoted and covered the event.

Mayor of Wimborne, John Burden said: "I am very upset that the folk festival is going. Unfortunately businesses made money on the back of it, but failed to support it."

East Dorset District Council's lead member for communities, Barbara Manuel, said: "The council has been the principal supporter of the festival over the last 20 years, sponsoring the artistic programme, organising activities for young people on the fringes of the festival and meeting substantial additional street cleaning costs over the festival weekend. The council has contributed in excess of £300,000 over the life of the event.

"In these austere times, where local authorities have seen a 30 per cent reduction in funding from central government and a two-year freeze on council tax, it shows the commitment that the council has for the festival in that total financial support for the 2012 event was more than £14,000."

Both East Dorset District Council and the Allendale Centre are hoping volunteers will come forward to carry on the three-day festival which in June this year attracted around 25,000 visitors to the town.

An Arts Council report on folk festivals highlights the economic importance of them to local communities and Mrs Manuel is keen to meet with festival organisers or voluntary groups who would be interested in carrying on the traditions of the Wimborne Folk Festival.

Councillor Manuel added: "The previous committee carried out sterling work to put on the festival every year and we are very grateful for their contributions. We hope that we will be able to find interested people to take the festival forward. The council will maintain its 2012 funding for the event into 2013 and will work with interested parties who come forward with a viable bid."

Anyone interested in meeting the council to discuss the future of the folk festival in Wimborne should contact Matti Raudsepp, head of leisure and open spaces on 01202 886201 or via email: mraudsepp@christchurchand


The Allendale Centre is also keen to maintain an annual Wimborne Festival.

Manager Andrew Bryant explained that the centre had been the original home of the festival.

Andrew said: "We will be working with other organisations and local authorities to ensure the town continues to host a major family friendly festival."

He added that they hoped to form a new Wimborne Folk

Festival group.

If you would like to become involved telephone the office on 01202 887247 or email info@theallendale.org

The centre has been quick to react to the demise of Wimborne folk Festival and to help fund any festival event, it is hosting a charity gig night with the O'Dalaigh's Band on 31st August. The band is comprised of two of the original three Yetties, Mac and Pete with a full band behind them. Tickets are now on sale at the Allendale or by emailing andy.allendale@hotmail.co.uk.

Marilyn Barber

See letters on page 20



  • Profile image for judithproctor

    Volunteers have formed a new festival committee.

    Wimborne Minster Folk Festival - http://tinyurl.com/bt57g9m takes place 7, 8, 9 June 2013 and will focus on folk, family and fun.

    There will be morris dancing in the streets, Appalachian and Irish dancing in the Cornmarket, children's entertainment and concerts, headed by the Albion Band in the Allendale Centre as well as music in the pubs and lots going on around town.

    By judithproctor at 17:03 on 16/12/12

  • Profile image for Chris00

    This report suggest that the festivalgoers are responsible for the vandalism. They are not. Neither do we need bouncers on pub doors. We enjoy our music, dance and song and like to accompany it with a beer or two, or more. We generally don't get drunk, and we don't become obnoxious, damage the flowers or anything else, and be sick over the pavements.

    The problem it seems is rather with the local younger population, not involved with the festival as such, many of whom (not all by a long chalk) seem to think that getting drunk and being loud and agressive and destructive is a good way to spend an evening. Wimborne Festival was great, but Wimbourne after 6pm needed police and bouncers; many (most?) festivalgoers avoided the town centre in the evenings.

    Maria shouldn't have had to offer to contribute to replace the flowers; that should be the responsibility of the pubs who seem to encourage these young people to drink to extraction but can't extract some of their profits to support the Festival, which nevertheless contributes to their profits!

    By Chris00 at 09:41 on 19/09/12

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