Eastleigh council are predicting bumper crowds of up to 15,000 people will have descended on it’s controversial annual Folk Festival, Mela and open air drinkathon which is being held on Eastleigh’s recreation ground this weekend.
This is despite clashing with Romsey’s annual Beggars Fair and total tickets sales of only 730 last year.
Headlining this year’s fest is ‘Badly drawn boy ‘ whose 1999 inaugural album won the Mercury music prize .
In 2002 Badly, AKA Damon Gough, was listed at number 16 in a list of ’50 bands to see before you die’ compiled by ‘Q’ magazine.
Since then his festival career has, sadly, seen him go from the big stage at Glastonbury to playing in a tent on Eastleigh Rec – poor chap!
He was supported by a full line up of acts that are largely unknown outside of the UK Folk scene.
Over the years some residents have raised concerns regarding the festival citing cost, noise as well impact on the recreation ground in terms of encroachment, accessibility and actual damage.
Many local people have expressed concerns at unable to use the park and having no right of way over it during the festival but feel they have been steadfastly ignored by the council.
A selection of very promising ‘free’ bands played on Saturday to a small but appreciative crowd. -Eastleigh News was impressed by ‘Broken Links’ and’ Scarlet Soho’ but wonders if these bands were actually paid by the council or if they were expected to give their services for free – as did the bands playing on the Bandstand this summer – have the council never heard of the minimum wage?
N.B . If anyone would like to write a reviews or share photos of any of the bands that appeared then please mail in!
Meanwhile warm weather on Saturday and an apparent suspension of Eastleigh’s public drinking bye laws, saw people take to the open parts of the Rec to sunbathe and knock back bottles of cheap cider – By 3 o’clock Sainsbury’s cider aisle looked like it had stripped by locusts.
The history of the Eastleigh’s Music Festival can be traced back to 2002 with the involvement of Keith House, Eastleigh’s council leader with his fellow Liberal Democrat and county council colleague Peter Chegwyn who was also a music promoter.
Mr Chegwyn had been organising a highly successful music festival in Gosport which had featured artistes like the international blues superstar and guitar legend B.B King.
The intention was to try and replicate the success in Eastleigh.
The original Eastleigh Music festival, organised by Peter Chegwyn was held on two separate sites, had a budget of £300,000 and made a £5000 profit
After the event Mr Chegwyn, who is something of an expert on these matters, told the Council that the Leigh road recreation ground had proved to be an unsuitable site for a music festival.
So far today, Sunday, has finally seen the crowds as families enjoyed a free fun day out at the Mela.
Interestingly the Mela described was in promotional literature by Crispian Cook -‘Arts development manager’ for Eastleigh Borough Council as:
‘One of the most important cultural events for Eastleigh – celebrating the diverse local cultures that make up our community’
The situation is of course, that Eastleigh isn’t actually very diverse at all.
In the last census 95% of the local population described themselves as ‘White British’ while just 1.18% described their ethnicity as Asian and 0.18% as Black. (So much for those who say we are being ‘swamped’ by immigrants).
There actually more unemployed people in Eastleigh than from any ethnic minority although how these people would be able to afford the £32 for a weekend ticket to the festival while drawing £64 a week in JSA is dubious (No concessions).
Eastleigh News says scrap the promoters, take down the fences and stick with just the free Mela and local bands.
How would you improve the festival? Any suggestions?