Festival brings flow of money

THREE-quarters of a million pounds is expected to be injected into the Huntingdonshire economy when the Inland Waterways Festival arrives in St Ives this summer. The festival, which takes place over the August bank holiday weekend, is expected to see at l

THREE-quarters of a million pounds is expected to be injected into the Huntingdonshire economy when the Inland Waterways Festival arrives in St Ives this summer.

The festival, which takes place over the August bank holiday weekend, is expected to see at least 5,000 people visiting St Ives each day of the three-day event.

With an average spend per head of £50 per day anticipated, Huntingdonshire District Council has said there are chances for businesses to cash in.

These figures are half the estimates the organisers of the event, the Inland Waterways Association, announced at a well-attended public meeting last week.


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The IWA expects 10,000 people a day, and a spend of £1.5million. It believes benefits to businesses will be higher when the spending of exhibitors and staff are factored in.

Although HDC is erring on the side of caution, it still expects the event to be a massive boost for the local economy.

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Speaking after Wednesday's meeting, Helen Donnellan, senior economic development officer at HDC, said: "This festival is one of the biggest events to come to Hunts for many a year. The opportunity is there for businesses to reap the benefits of so many visitors, not just in St Ives but across the district.

"We anticipate exhibitors arriving up to two weeks before the weekend starts, affording businesses in St Ives - and beyond - lots of commercial benefits."

Ms Donnellan added: "We are hopeful that businesses in St Ives will grasp this opportunity by the hand and stay open later to cater for those leaving the festival for the day."

About 80 residents gathered in St Ives Free Church to hear the latest plans for the festival.

More than 300 boats have signed up to attend the event, which will have its own park and ride facility operating, while another 100 are expected to attend, including land-based boats from China and Poland.

Teams of volunteers will erect 100 temporary jetties for the festival while there will be more than 100 exhibitors and a huge variety of activities to try. These will include falconry, archery and a Victorian fairground. There will also be a classic car show on at least one of the days along with theatrical performances and a folk club.

John Adams, who manages the River Great Ouse for the Environment Agency, told the meeting that planned dredging work, to allow easy access along the river, had been put back to the first week of April, but this would not affect preparations for the event.

Event chairman Sid Fisher said: "I am delighted with the way the preparations are going and the enthusiasm for the festival from the people of St Ives."

INFORMATION: Volunteers are still needed to help with preparations. For more information contact Sid Fisher on 01480 495745. The next public meeting will be on Tuesday, April 17, at St Ives Methodist Church schoolroom at 7.30pm.

Visit www.waterways.org.uk for more information.

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