Festival forced to change venue

Lochgilphead's Front Green is still fenced off, to the dismay of festival organisers.

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Lochgilphead Celtic and Pictish Festival organisers were left reeling after having to relocate their event to the town’s Ropework Park with only a week’s notice.

Festival organisers were informed by Argyll and Bute Council last Friday that the intended venue, the still-in-construction Front Green, would not be ready to host the event in time.

Instead tomorrow’s (Saturday August 6) one-day, tribal-themed music and performance festival has been forced to decamp to the Ropework Park, a grass sports field two blocks away from the town centre, and home to the town’s amateur football team.

Brian MacLennan, festival organiser, said: ‘The Front Green work was originally supposed to be completed in May this year, and we appreciate that there are always challenges in completing these projects, but we are also disappointed that, three months later, with a known event coming up, there is still work to be done.

‘We had been under the impression during the past few weeks that we should be able to have access to the completed Front Green area where the festival takes place, while the remainder of the site remained fenced off, and this would have been a perfectly good solution.

‘However, we were told last Friday that this would not be an option due to contractual and insurance implications.

‘Again, I completely understand, but the very short notice – only a week before we are setting up the site for the festival – has left lots of work to do, such as informing all the performers of the new venue, producing a new health and safety plan, as well as informing visitors of the change.

‘We remain pragmatic and we are not blaming the council. I do understand that delays happen, but a three-month contingency with no official end date does cause disappointment for the town, and for the many children who don’t look like getting to try the new playpark before the school holidays end next week.

‘The loss of the Front Green for the festival means the loss of passing tourist trade, as the Ropework Park is a lot less visible to those travelling through the centre of town.

‘This will harm impact on festival footfall, which is an important factor in funding the event in future years.

‘We’ve been doing everything we can to highlight the change, and are extremely grateful for the many supportive comments and ‘shares’ on social media that festival posts have received.

‘Most importantly, though, the festival will go ahead at the same as planned, and is still free of charge.  We hope to see as many people as possible turn out.’

The festival organisers said they were pleased with the efforts the local authority had made in helping smoothen the process of the enforced venue change to the Ropework.

Brian added: ‘The council has been very helpful with parts of the festival set-up such as with toilets, and posters notifying the public of the venue change, and we want to say that we are grateful to it for that support.’

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: ‘Contractors are in the process of carrying out the final elements of the project, and we expect works to be complete in the next few weeks.

‘We are working with the festival organisers to help them make arrangements for the new location.’

The festival will run from 11am to 4pm at the Ropework Park.

Children couldn’t play in the new playpark during their summer holidays.