Preparing for IWA festival

PREPARATIONS for the Bank Holiday river festival in St Ives will not cause traffic chaos in the town, the organisers promised this week. Nor should extensive use of Hemingford Meadow by the 30,000 people expected to attend the three-day St Ives on Water e

PREPARATIONS for the Bank Holiday river festival in St Ives will not cause traffic chaos in the town, the organisers promised this week.

Nor should extensive use of Hemingford Meadow by the 30,000 people expected to attend the three-day St Ives on Water event do lasting damage to ancient pasture on the site, the Inland Waterways Association said.

But organisers admitted that, starting on Friday this week, they were preparing to turn Hemingford Meadow into a mini-city.

Peter Bolt, director of the IWA, moved to allay any fears that the site preparations would cause disruption in St Ives.

He said: "Any lorries arriving at the site will come off the A14 and use London Road to access the hard-standing path left by a previous developer.

"This will not impact upon the centre of St Ives, and those interested in watching the festival get put together will have a fantastic view from the bridge.

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"Although the grass on the site will obviously be flattened out, the forecast is for a hot August and the ground will be hard - so there should be no lasting damage."

Harry Arnold, editor of the IWA's Waterways publication, said: "Exhibitors travelling to St Ives from far afield [by boat] will have enjoyed an interesting, and slightly tricky, run to get here - and there will be many who have not travelled along the river before."

Preparations for the festival - from August 25 to 27 - should see water pipes in place by next week, to be followed by security fencing and erection of the large number of marquees required to stage the event.

Boats have already started mooring up at locks around the site ready for the festival. Hundreds of visiting boats are expected to attend, but IWA marketing director Gillian Bolt said there should be no queues at locks.

Exhibition boats from Turkey, Poland and China are expected to be on display.

The festival will be opened at noon on Saturday, August 25 by the chief executive of the Environment Agency, Baroness Young.

INFORMATION: For more on the Inland Waterways Festival visit www.waterways.org.uk

Opening day timetable (August 25)

10am Gates open

10.25am VIP flotilla leaves Jones's boatyard (The flotilla will include around 20 small steam boats, historic launch Rajah, historic launch Annie, carrying the VIP party, and other EA craft. The flotilla will process up the moorings towards Hemingford Lock and then return to arrive on site around 11.30 am at the trip boat moorings.

Noon Grand opening

12.30pm Wild West show starts

1pm First showing of the 'Get Set Go' cook demonstration in the food market

1pm Bill Bailey jazz band playing in the bandstand

2pm Braunston Pickle folk group in the bandstand

3pm 'Get Set Go' cook demos in the food market

3.15pm Rosie & Jim readings in the bandstand

3.30pm Falconry in the arena

4pm Line dancing in the bandstand

Also on offer all day will be children's activities, to include brick-laying, willow weaving and knot tying. There will be craft workshops including fender-making, crochet, patchwork and boat maintenance workshops, also running all day.

One of the highlights of the festival will be the Parade of Illuminated Boats on the Sunday evening. This year's theme is cavaliers and roundheads.

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