Criticised Harrogate food & drink festival to return?

Many people at Gin Rocks Festival at Ripley had a great time.

The Harrogate organiser of a popular but controversial drinks festival last year has apologised once again to anyone let down after last year's much-criticised event.

Held in the grounds of Ripley Castle in September, the Gin Rocks Festival proved highly popular in advance, selling nearly 2,000 tickets.
The aim was to celebrate local independent gin producers and bring local communities together to discover and embrace local suppliers under a relaxed, festival atmosphere with live music.
But the festival's very success proved a problem in itself.
When the festival gates first opened at 6pm, food and drink stall holders were swamped, leading to lengthy lines of gin lovers queuing for up to an hour for a drink.
Although many attendees said the event was very enjoyablelonce the initial queues had died down, there was also a flood of complaints, not only in the night itself, but since then, too.
But organiser Danielle Bush told the Harrogate Advertiser she had contacted every ticket holder who had complained to her.
In addition, she said she was only trying to do something good for the people of the Harrogate district and had learned some major lessons which would help her do a better job with the second Gin Rocks Festival.
Danielle said: "We have taken great care to contact every person who got in touch after Gin Rocks Festival directly and expect to welcome the vast majority of them back to our next event.
"All of our attendee’s feedback has most certainly been taken on board and after taking everything into account, there will be some beneficial changes made to the structure of the festival."
One reader who attended the event last autumn, Lucy Bagnall, said she had been trying to get a refund, though she says she knew the tickets were non-refundable.
Lucy said: "I attended the event, albeit briefly, and have been trying to obtain a refund for the event.
"I know that the tickets were non-refundable and if I had been unable to attend for personal reasons that would have been completely acceptable.
"However as the event was not successful as a result of their own disorganisation, it seems unreasonable that we, the patrons, are expected to bear the cost.
"I called Ripley Castle to ask if they were able to assist and they very helpfully arranged for the organiser to call me. I was told I could not have a refund because then they would make a loss on the event
"I find it unfair that they arrange an event which is oversubscribed such that it is not enjoyable for paying patrons.
"I cannot believe I am the only person with this issue, as I saw many people leaving the event dissatisfied and I can imagine they would like a refund for the ticket they were unable to use."
While apologetic, Gin Rocks organiser Danielle Bush said the festival at Ripley had received a lot of support for its innovatiove nature.
Danielle said: "It’s not every day that a new-concept outdoor event like Gin Rocks Festival gets brought to Harrogate and we’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support we’ve had for bringing this event to the residents of Harrogate and surrounding areas once more.
"We’ve contacted Lucy and anyone who got in touch with Gin Rocks at the time and dealt with their queries on a case by case basis.
"We have emailed Lucy four times since the event, have spoken to her on the phone.
"We have offered Lucy compensation in the form of complimentary entry to our next event. In addition every guest, including Lucy, who attended the event was given a Gin Rocks Copa glass to the value of £9.99 to take home with them too.
"We ran Gin Rocks Festival at a financial loss in order to bring this innovative event to the residents of Harrogate.
"We maintain that the the entry price of just £10 a ticket for an outdoor festival with a host of live music and a complimentary glass to take home was exceptional value compared to similar festivals."

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