Discussion Forum
The Parade and Doorstep Festival

From Rev Tony Buglass
Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Thank you and congratulations to those who took part in the Handmade Parade and WOYD at the weekend. I was singing with Calder Valley Voices, so was there at the very start - first to be told that the stage on which we were due to sing was unsafe so couldn't be used, then to see Dave Boardman and the crew swing into action and retrieve the situation, then to hear the drums and see the procession come into view - those big blue-faced persons, a large heron, a swimmer, and lots of other fantastic creations. You really had to be standing where we were, as the whole parade surrounded us, led by their amazing MC on stilts! Just fantastic.

Looking out on the crowds dancing in the rain to the drums, I thought this was just like a smaller version of Glastonbury in Hebden Bridge (well, the mud wasn't so deep...) I hope Dave and the organisers have recovered enough to contemplate next year with hope and confidence. Surely it can't rain the same weekend 3 years running...

It was a great weekend. Thanks, folks!

From Paul D
Tuesday, 22 July 2008

I agree it was a stirling effort, but a couple of issues that need to be addressed if this runs again.

1. Drugs and alcohol. I had to take my kids off the field and then off the park on Sunday as the festival had degenerated into a dope smoking and street drinking event. Men with cans and even bags full of lager wandering drunkenly amongst children, youngsters openly smoking dope, a general aggressiveness, foul language and bitterness out of keeping with the event. If this is about music why was everyone so pissed? Why were so many adults and even parents grasping cans and stumbling about? Why wasn't the street drinking ban enforced by the police and how is it that taking drugs publicly seems so cool nobody bothers to rmeind anyone of the law? if this continues families will stay away. Sure some parents smoke dope, openly, in public and in front of their children. I see that as pathetic and suspect others do too.

2. Stewarding. A little unfair to criticise those giving their time so freely, but why the aggressive bucket rattling by some of these individuals? Was it a free festival or not? Why the funnel into what appears to be a pay gate? And why were those so obviously drunk left to stagge through whilst tourists and families were essentially harassed?

This event should either be for the whole town or not. If it's allowed to degenerate into a private piss up for dope smoking itinerants then it should be held elsewhere and without dipping into the public purse. Underneath this brilliant event was some very ugly stuff. The hard work of the orgnaisers and participants could be undermined if this continues.

From Ernest Jones
Tuesday, 22 July 2008

As one of the many volunteers who helped to organise and put on World on Your Doorstep, I should like to echo Tony Buglass’ comments about the Handmade Parade. Following a depressing morning after discovering that the main stage had collapsed during the night, the parade provided a fantastic lift to the spirits. All of the people involved should be mightily applauded for staging such a brilliant event.

I read Paul D’s post with interest and some surprise, wondering whether we had been at the same event. While quite a few people were drinking alcohol in the park, most did so in moderation. I detected the odd whiff of dope in the air, but Paul’s assertions that “the festival had degenerated into a dope smoking and street drinking event” and that there was “a general aggressiveness, foul language and bitterness out of keeping with the event” were far from my experience.

While I agree it is not a pretty sight to see drunken men (and a few women) stumbling about at a family-friendly festival, a tiny percentage of the crowd was in this condition. The overwhelming majority of people were there to enjoy the music, the food and the sunshine, and the atmosphere was friendly and joyous, even during the showers. Our security team was magnificent throughout the weekend, and dealt effectively with the small number of incidents that occurred, mostly on the Saturday.

Paul asks “Was it a free festival or not?”. It was certainly not free to put on. We were generously supported by Hebden Royd Town Council, the Community Foundation for Calderdale, Calderdale Council and others, including local businesses, but without raising money during the festival - from stallholders, programme and T-shirt sales, but mostly from donations - we should not be able to stage the festival. Asking visitors for a donation does not amount to harassment.

It is almost impossible to stage a free festival legally. The costs are substantial: consider the requirements for security, first-aiders, loos, insurance – let alone those more directly related to putting the music on: power supply, stage and marquee hire, sound engineers, PA.

Those of us who helped to make World on Your Doorstep happen hope the event will become a permanent fixture in the Hebden Bridge calendar, and would like it to continue to be free, particularly as we take over the town’s public park for four days.

It can only happen with continuing outside funding, by raising money during the event, and through the generosity of performers and volunteers who give their time freely to make the festival such a success: volunteers such as Paul Vorstman, who worked tirelessly from early on Friday morning until late on Monday afternoon, guaranteeing the power supply for the performers and the café.

At any rate, I greatly enjoyed the weekend, and treasure four magic moments:

  1. The recovery of the main stage programme, after facing the potential disaster of having no main stage and no PA just before the start, thanks to the hard work and enterprise of the sound engineers and crew, and the kindness of the people who lent us equipment

  2. The Zimbabwean exiles Theatre Under Fire, who spent their expenses on festival T-shirts, stayed to watch the other performers, and then provided an impromptu rhythm section for Celt Islam, when that band’s drummer failed to arrive

  3. The rapt faces of the young people from the skatepark, when they broke off to watch hip hop performers Don’t Talk To Strangers

  4. Dave Boardman discovering that he was a grandfather, sitting in a camper van with a can of beer after a long Friday setting up the site

From Collin W
Wednesday, 23 July 2008

I'm afraid I must have been in a similar area to Paul D.
I attended with my family and thought the music seemed excellent.

Unfortunately we left after a short time due to a significant number of those surrounding us being drunk, dope smoking, and aggressive.

I know these individuals were not a majority, but it doesn't take a majority behaving like this to spoil the event for others. Not really a family event I'm afraid. Shame.

From Andrew Kim
Thursday, 31 July 2008

Thanks Rev Tony Buglass and Ernest Jones for your kind words for the Hebden Bridge Handmade Parade. As it was the first year, we had no idea what sort of response we would get from the larger community.

As Thingumajig Theatre is relatively new and unknown and HEADS has never attempted an event of this size, we just didn't know if folks would show up to the workshops or the parade.

But thanks to the amazing hard work of HEADS who raised the money and set up the infrastructure and the hard work of the parade artists, workshop leaders and volunteers, we easily had 400 people making art over the course of a month and at least that many dancing down the streets. When I entered the parade at the top of Valley Road (I was in the end of the parade on stilts), I could see the front of the parade just starting to turn into St. George's Square - we were as long as Valley Road!

The community response afterwards has been very positive and makes it very clear that there is a need and demand here for people to make art together. We're not sure when or how but you can bet that you'll hear from us again.

And thanks to WOYD for giving us a great place to parade to! Thanks for pulling it together at the last minute, collapsed stage and all.


See also

Photos of the Handmade Parade
Photos of the World on your Doorstep Festival
Hebweb report on the World on your Doorstep Festival