Festival will return to park after big success

Pirates on the lake at Peasholm Park enjoying the show at this year's Acoustic Gathering. Picture Richard Ponter 123657j
Pirates on the lake at Peasholm Park enjoying the show at this year's Acoustic Gathering. Picture Richard Ponter 123657j

One of Scarborough’s top live music events which was at risk of going under after vital funding was cut will take place again next year.

Organisers of the seventh Acoustic Gathering, who laid their bank balances on the line to save the event, are breathing a sigh of relief following its huge success.

Blessed with blazing sunshine and one of its best ever line-ups, the Peasholm Park festival pulled in over 2,000 music-lovers on September 8 and 9.

As a result, organisers have made enough cash to break even and have managed to rake in extra funds that will be poured back into next year’s event.

Organiser Steve Dickinson said: “Considering it was an event that has until now been free for six years, we did extremely well indeed.

“We were well clear of 600 people on Saturday and 1,500 people on Sunday and that really helped us hit our target. We can sleep well now.”

The team of five local men behind the event were determined to keep it going despite facing soaring costs in the year vital council funds were pulled.

Licensing issues and the extra conditions demanded by the police left the team with a bill of £13,000 - four times higher than last year.

In an effort to claw back the cost, work was done for free, sponsorship deals were struck and an entrance fee was charged for the first time.

Mr Dickinson said: “It was a massive risk. As we got nearer the event, we realised what we had done but it was too late by then. But thanks to the weather, the people who came and the brilliant acts, we have broken even with a bit to spare. We will keep this in an account for next year’s Gathering, which we are already thinking about.”

A small number of arrests last year resulted in licensing restrictions, which meant fans were no longer able to take their own alcohol to the event.

However, Mr Dickinson said this improved the atmosphere at the festival.

“It felt a lot safer and it wasn’t just a drunken free for all. Over the years it was starting to get a bit lairy and it was very difficult to police. I think charging for the event also made a difference as people took it more seriously. The crowd was actually listening to the music rather than just enjoying the novelty of being able to drink in Peasholm Park. This year it felt like a proper festival rather than just a big party.”

Mr Dickinson, who was behind the Beached festival until 2006, added that it was one of the best events he had ever organised.

“Considering it was self-funded and our first proper paid festival, it was magic,” he said. “So many people have come up to us and said how great it was and that’s what makes it all worthwhile.”