In several ways, I am sure that the four-day STReat Food Festival event in Valley Gardens was a great success.
Those who attended no doubt found it an enjoyable occasion with the band and street entertainers, etc. I certainly did.
The organisers and participants are very keen to repeat it, hence the booking for next year.
Unfortunately considerable damage was done to Valley Gardens, which is of concern to Friends of Valley Gardens, the Civic Society and local residents, some of whom have written to this newspaper.
The enjoyment factor and commercial success do not justify such damage.
The purpose of the gardens is surely to be an example of the best that Harrogate has to offer as a successful floral town. Also its maintenance to the highest standard is deserved, because of the status it has as a listed park and garden, which our HBC gardeners always strive to achieve, along with the tireless work and fundraising of Friends of Valley Gardens.
The time and cost of repairs due to such an event are too high a price to bear. Gardens should be enjoyed for what they are and this is certainly true of Valley Gardens, evidenced by the huge number of visitors per annum.
The quality and attractiveness of the gardens must be assured and this will not be the case if used for events that cause damage to the extent of the STReat Food Festival.
It was of course the first appearance of the event, and lessons have been learned from the experience. No doubt the organisers and stallholders are sincere in suggesting that this knowledge will be used to make adjustments to future events.
I do not believe though that it is possible to have such a festival with so many vehicles and people over a four day period without doing unacceptable damage.
Obviously rain makes an adverse difference, but who can guarantee four bone dry days?
Harrogate Civic Society