Rock Festival Wash Up

Rock Festival Wash Up

I know, I know.  Every year I write up the Rock Festival and talk about how hard work it was but how well it went.  That’s because it is always hard work and it does always seem to go pretty well.  And when a small group of people work so hard to put something great on for our town its worth talking about, I think, even if its a bit repetitive.

Wisbech Town Council aspire to do our events a little bit better each year.  We watch what works and build on it.  We watch what doesn’t work so well and enact plans to prevent or reduce that problem the following year.  This means that each year things run a little more smoothly.  But there’s no getting around the sheer volume of the work.

The whole thing takes several months of meetings, planning and organisation to get set.  Then the actual setup of the event begins on the Saturday night, when Councillors and volunteers meet up to get some of the early work done in time for the morning; getting dozens of safety barriers to the park, moving the gazebos ready to be set up in the morning (harder work than you might think, these things are heavy and they have weights to hold them down that are heavier.)

Then people arrive early in the morning on the Sunday to begin putting everything in place.  There’s a lot to organise.  Barriers, first aid tent, stage, traders area, litter bins, portaloos and toilets.  All the volunteer stewards are briefed on safety procedures and “what to do’s” in the event of various possible issues.

Once the event begins, stewards (who have already been working for four hours at that point) then have to spend some nine hours keeping on top of things.  Constantly picking up litter (otherwise it accumulates in a grim way and the place looks like a bomb has hit it), helping reunite lost children with worried parents, unblocking toilets, diffusing any potential disputes between individuals, handing out free water to people if there is a worry that the heat might be a problem, directing people to things, dealing with first aid issues and generally keeping the event running safety and smoothly.   The park is split into three “stages” and so stewards are walking all around the park all day, which was in blistering heat this year.

At all times stewards must be upbeat, friendly and happy – because grumpy, hot, tired angry stewards do not add to a successful party atmosphere.  Often, as the day wears on and feet start to ache and sunburn gets sore and you’ve just taken your twenty-ninth binbag of rubbish to the skip, remaining positive and smiley can be a little challenging, but our stewards manage it because it really is fun to know you are delivering fun for others.

When the day ends for everybody else, stewards still have three more hours “clearing up” to do.  Putting back all those metal barriers and gazebos and weights, clearing all the rest of the litter, loading it all into vans and getting it back into storage.  Everybody is shattered by the end.

I think most people know this but I do think its worth stressing that every single one of our stewards, whether they are Councillors or friends, are all volunteers.  Nobody gets paid a penny.  It is not part of anybody’s “job.”  They turn up and give their time and energy for free, to deliver this event to people who love it.

In my opinion, this year was probably the best ever Rock Festival.  It’s true that there was a fight at the Dance Stage, brought about by some inter-family drama and (I suspect) the use of alcohol and substances some of them brought with them.  But it was handled smoothly by stewards and the Police and did not detract from the overall event – in fact most people didn’t know it had happened at all.   It is not possible for any event to have zero incidents, the mark of good organisation is the correct handling of the situation.  David Oliver’s team and the stewards went precisely by the book and the scuffle was contained and diffused.

Councillors David and Jess Oliver handle safety for the whole event and were brilliant.

Cllr Garry Tibbs, who compered the whole event, has pretty much secured the role forever.  He just has a Rock n’ Roll voice :)  But despite his new celebrity, he was still litter picking and loading with the rest of us lowly steward minions. :) :)

Gary Read and his sound team are always awesome and this was particularly true this year – I don’t think I’ve ever heard Rock Festival sound so good.

All the many Councillors and volunteers worked their socks off.   I wont name them all because I will forget some but I would like to mention Trevor Ketteringham (always tireless and hard-working) and Cllr. Andrew Lynn and most particularly David Gutteridge (The Viking) whose new First Aid qualification was put to good use and who worked so hard at the Dance Stage for most of the day.

Obviously – huge thanks to all the acts on all three stages who entertained so many people for so long.

The stalls and fair were great.

The Mayor, Cllr Peter Human, and his family were absolute troopers.  Despite having to make a long, hot Mayoral appearance, he was still there in the dark at the end loading things into vans.

My Mum and Stepdad and my Son Joe were just great.

Our Town Clerk Terry, and Susanah Farmer, were also there for the entire event working above and beyond the call of duty.

But most of all my hat goes off to Cllr. Sam Hoy who is the lead person and main organiser of the event and who, once again, with the help of all the people I have named and probably quite a few I forgot to name (sorry!) delivered an incredible success.