Organisers defend Gin Rocks Festival despite angry walkouts

Lovely setting - Ripley Castle as photographed by reader Catherine Ruane.
Lovely setting - Ripley Castle as photographed by reader Catherine Ruane.

Organisers of a new Harrogate drinks festival at the weekend have hailed it as a success overall despite dozens of disappointed people walking out with refunds.

Most of the total of 1,980 paying members of the public at Gin Rocks Festival thought it was a "cracking event" and stayed to the end, lapping up the selection of drinks, food, live music and DJs in a variety of marquees.
But a wave of angry readers got in touch with the Harrogate Advertiser by social media after Sunday's popular event complaining of long queues and too few bars.
Having paid an entry fee for Gin Rocks Festival, which was held in marquees at the picturesque lakeside at Ripley Castle, some say they were waiting for up to 50 minutes in queues at the bar.
Although at least one visitor said the event was a "disaster", people the Harrogate Advertiser talked to said the problems seem to have been limited to the first hour after doors opened at 6pm.
The Harrogate Advertiser's photographer Adrian Murray saw angry people leaving the event in their dozens at around 7pm, many of them asking for their money back.
The issue is being taken seriously by organisers who do not appear to have expected a late surge of visitors who paid on the doors at the lovely outdoors location rather than buying tickets in advance.
A spokesman for the organisers said: "Despite having organised a shuttle bus to stagger the arrival of guests there was a large influx of visitors between 6.30pm and 8.00pm which caused queues at the three bars, staffed by external organisations.
"We quickly arranged an additional pop-up gin and tonic bar which helped to ease the congestion.
"Around 250 people left the event around that time not wanting to queue to be served, all their drinks vouchers were fully refunded.
"We would like to thank everyone for supporting this brand new event and apologise for the delays on the bar on the night. It’s something we will learn from for the next event."
Among the many complaints in social media was one from Mike Higginson who posted:
"Badly organised, the tokens were of value of £20 for 4 drinks, the first drink took an hour and a half to queue for.
"Supplies ran out soon after so the drink menu was a bust. The gin suppliers tent was impossible to see any stands in as the place was so crowded.
"The glasses are nice, I will give you that, but I am bitterly disappointed. Poor, poor, poor."
But another visitor Trish Bullock posted only positive remarks: "Arrived just after eight, had a g&t within five minutes, music was ace, atmosphere great, dodgems fun, burritos hit the spot. Didn't wait more than five minutes for refills. Really great night."
While being sympathetic over the problems, organisers said the Gin Rocks Festival had been a huge hit overall.
A spokesman said: "Once the initial influx had ceased, the night went on to be a successful evening with many people enjoying the gin, music, fairground rides and dancing well into the night."
"Having created an amazing new event for Harrogate, Gin Rocks Festival has received a host of positive comments from festival goers.
"Of the 1,980 people who went through the gates to the festival, over three quarters of them, 1,600 people were partying throughout the event.
"Lots of the Gin Rockers have been sharing their enjoyment of the festival atmosphere, the incredible live music, great food and drinks."
"The low ticket price of £10 included a free Copa Gin glass which everyone attending the event was delighted with and happily took home with them."

Some of the many happy revellers at Gin Rocks Festival on Sunday - Dave Flemming, Diane Fieldhouse, Adam Lowrey, Natasha Fieldhouse and Paul Fieldhouse. (1709167AM1)

Some of the many happy revellers at Gin Rocks Festival on Sunday - Dave Flemming, Diane Fieldhouse, Adam Lowrey, Natasha Fieldhouse and Paul Fieldhouse. (1709167AM1)