Weston super Food Festival cancelled, with Tropicana described as 'nightmare' venue

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 June 2017 | UPDATED: 07:45 29 June 2017

Weston super Food Festival has been cancelled.

Weston super Food Festival has been cancelled.

Archant

One of the biggest and most successful events in Weston's calendar has been scrapped this week, with organisers blaming the 'nightmare' Tropicana venue for their decision.

Organisers say the 'nightmare' venue  The Tropicana  is partially to blame.Organisers say the 'nightmare' venue  The Tropicana  is partially to blame.

Weston super Food Festival has drawn around 30,000 people to the town in each of its previous four years, and had been due to return to the revived seafront venue on September 16 and 17.

But organisers were this week forced to rethink their plans, and made the surprise decision to cancel the event – citing concerns over the venue as a key factor in their decision.

Lead organiser Sally Packer said a ‘quick decision’ had to be made due to a combination of family health problems and issues with The Tropicana facilities.

She told the Mercury an agreement was struck last year with the Tropicana events team that new flooring would be installed to improve the venue ahead of this year’s festival – a claim denied by the building’s owner, North Somerset Council.

Mrs Packer said: “We knew how problematic the venue had been; it was a total nightmare last year and we could not go through that again, so we wanted absolute assurance that some kind of surface would be installed before our festival and asked for confirmation it could be done.

Peter Wooham-Kay, Good Game - wild artisan food, at a previous food festival.Peter Wooham-Kay, Good Game - wild artisan food, at a previous food festival.

“I do not blame the team at the Tropicana at all – at the end of the day it comes down to money.”

Mrs Packer continued: “It is such a shame and such an opportunity to make the Tropicana into an events space. There just needs to be a small amount of investment to change it from a car park to an events space.”

The council has responded by insisting it received no complaints from the festival organisers about the surface, adding the Tropicana had immediately rebooked for 2017 after last year’s event was hailed as ‘one of the best’.

A spokesman added: “There were no complaints or issues raised about the surface in the building.

“We are shocked that the organisers are now saying that the Tropicana’s floor is the reason for cancelling the event.

“We have been told that the cancellation is the result of changes on the committee and an inability to stage the event effectively.”

Weston super Food Festival brought thousands of people to the town in previous years.Weston super Food Festival brought thousands of people to the town in previous years.

Mrs Packer – and her team of volunteers – explored alternatives, but believed there was no alternative venue. Although it has previously been held at the Town Square and Winter Gardens, but the latter’s takeover by Weston College saw the festival move to the Tropicana last year.

She said: “I have a lot of contacts in the industry but nobody else was able to take the event on. It is a full-time job organising this event and people were either busy with other events or could not commit to it.

“Last year the event attracted 30,000 people and they came from all over and it is a big loss for Weston.

“We did a good job of putting Weston on the foodie map, and now there is a great food scene here.”

This year saw another food festival, Eat: Weston, make its debut in the High Street. Its organisers were approached about taking over Weston super Food Festival, but ruled it out because of the short notice.

Eat: Weston organisers Beverley and Sarah Milner Simonds said: “We were really sad to hear from Sally and her team that the Super Food Festival is not happening this September. It was a much-loved annual event which must have taken hard work to develop.

Sarah and Beverley Milner Simonds with Weston Mayor Alan Peak and his wife Jackie.Sarah and Beverley Milner Simonds with Weston Mayor Alan Peak and his wife Jackie.

“Weston has some phenomenal food producers and inspired people working flat out to transform the local food landscape. That culture belongs to us all. We’d like to celebrate it more.”

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