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River Festival is latest victim of never-ending wet weather
UNSEASONABLE wet and wild weather over the weekend led to the cancellation of another much anticipated Evesham event.
The River Festival was the third major event in the town to fall victim to this year’s wet summer.
In April the Asparagus Festival was cancelled and last month the town’s Balloon Festival had to go ahead without any balloons.
Organisers of this year’s River Festival hung on until the 11th hour before making the decision but the swollen waters of the river Avon, which was on red alert, meant the planned flotilla celebrating the opening of the river to the sea 50 years ago, the fete of the illuminated parade and the firework display could not go ahead.
Terry Smith, who was set to lead the 50th anniversary flotilla down the Avon with fellow organiser Jackie Bailey, said he was disappointed.
“We held off making the decision, but we had to cancel for health and safety reasons,”
said Mr Smith.
“We had hoped to carry on with the festival despite the flotilla being cancelled but the water is quite high, although not yet in the Workman Gardens.
“Of course we are very disappointed but we are hoping to hold the flotilla later this summer, although the festival will not take place later.”
Vicky Lawson, vice-chairman of tourism body VECTA, said: “It is a great shame for the town because we are especially known for the festivals. I think it is bad for morale as much as business because there is a lot of effort that goes into the organisation.”
Angela Tidmarsh, Wychavon District Council tourism officer, said she was “gutted” for people who had lost business because of the inclement weather.
She said: “We are concerned for the economy but we keep going and looking to the next event.”
But Evesham town manager Shawn Riley said although he was sorry for the cancellation of the River Festival he did not feel it had a major impact on the town’s economy.
He said: “One of the benefits of Evesham having such a packed festival calendar is there is always another event on round the corner.
“We are more resilient than most towns, but it is tough on volunteers who have invested a lot of their time in organising these events.
“Although the balloon festival had no balloons and numbers were slightly down it was rescued and was extremely successful.
“We have to look ahead.”