Hitchin TOT Fest organisers defend event amid complaints

A youngster at TOT Fest on Sunday. Picture: Submitted

A youngster at TOT Fest on Sunday. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

The organisers of a children’s festival that was held in Hitchin on Sunday have insisted most feedback has been positive, amid a barrage of complaints.

A youngster at TOT Fest on Sunday. Picture: Submitted

A youngster at TOT Fest on Sunday. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

Pink Bear Events held its inaugural TOT Fest at Hitchin Priory at the weekend, with thousands buying £13.50 tickets to what was billed as the ultimate baby and toddler festival.

But many have since slammed it as a “poorly-run school fête”, and now demand refunds – with complaints about huge queues in the heat for pre-school children, having to pay for activities on top of the entrance fee, and claims the gates were opened after an hour so anyone could walk in without tickets.

Asked by the Comet to respond to the complaints, Pink Bear Events said that “the majority of the feedback, both on the day and subsequently, was very positive, with families looking forward to the same event next year”.

The company statement continued: “At Pink Bear we aim for excellence in both our service and customer enjoyment. As such all feedback is important to us.

“With this in mind, a handful of issues have been raised and we will be reviewing these on an individual basis alongside our event partners.”

People complaining about TOT Fest have told the Comet they feel Pink Bear Events has ignored calls for explanations or refunds.

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Mum Jennifer Cole, who took her two-year-old son to TOT Fest, told this paper: “Families have been ripped off terribly, but the organisers really couldn’t care.

“It was horrendous and unsafe. There were massive 30-to-40-minute queues for drinks and food, which promptly ran out.

“Two tiny bouncy castles for thousands of children – bring on the queueing! And six portaloos for probably 5,000 people.”

Jessica Ferguson – who summed up TOT Fest as “honestly so awful” – expressed concerns about the security of opening the gates to everyone, and said the uncut grass made pushing a pram miserable in Sunday’s heat.

Others have told the Comet similar stories, including Sian Mitchell – who said the lack of refunds was “disgusting”.

Not all feedback has been negative. One mum, who preferred not to be named, told the Comet she and her family had “a great day at TOT Fest, in complete contrast to so many reviews we have read”.

“If only there were more events for children that were equally wonderfully free from fairground rides and wall-to-wall sugar,” she said. “My girls, aged two and four, loved it. We even got given a free box of cakes on the way out.”