Food Festival should be relocated, say upset Valley Gardens volunteers

Reseeding work going on this week behind an orange fence to repair damaged grass in Valley Gardens. (1609121AM3)
Reseeding work going on this week behind an orange fence to repair damaged grass in Valley Gardens. (1609121AM3)

Upset volunteers who look after the Valley Gardens in Harrogate say they’re horrified by plans to bring back a popular food festival next year.

Although not against The StrEat Food and Family Fun Festival in principle, Friends of the Valley Gardens were alarmed at the damage caused.
They were also concerned by litter and night-time live music.
But organisers say the first-ever The StrEat Food and Family Fun Festival attracted 100,000 people over the August bank holiday weekend and extra measures would be put in place to address any issues when the event returns next year.
Parts of the Valley Gardens remain fenced off this week as Harrogate Borough Council’s gardeners repaired sizable patches of grass which had been turned to a dark sea of shallow mud where food stalls and stallholders’ vans had been located.
Not known for their militancy, chairman of FOVG Jane Blayney said the four-day festival, which drew big crowds, should be held somewhere else next year.
Jane Blayney said: “The Valley Gardens is too fragile to host this type of event. It’s tear-jerking to see what happened.
“The council have have had to reseed areas of the gardens at full tilt. It’s so dispiriting fotr the small number of gardeners who such a wonderful job to make the Valley Gardens look so beautiful.
“The food festival is a good idea but it should be held somewhere else such as The Stray.”
Organised by Harrogate businesswoman Cathy McConagh, said she would learn the lessons of the first event and was keen to address any future problems.
She said: “The event was hugely successful. We wanted to bring the best of everything to Harrogate. We only had six residents complaining but we don’t like to upset anyone.
“We did have some issues. But it was the the first time we’e done this and we aim to learn from our mistakes.
“Some traders did park in the wrong place and the rain on the Saturday didn’t help. But we turned off the live music at 10.30pm each night and dealt with litter quickly.
“The council were brilliant and started dealing with the grass situation straightaway the day after we finished.
“We’re putting plans in place for next year so the damage will be addressed.”
As well as come of the UK’s best street food traders, the festival also offered street performers, live music, children’s activities, a vintage and an artisan market place.
As for the option of holding the street food festival somewhere else, organiser Cathy McConaghy said it was the location itself which had helped make the event so popular.
She said: “Everyone said the atmosphere was so relaxed in the Valley Gardens. It is such a lovely place, I don’t think it would be the same on The Stray.