Letchworth Festival saved – but community support is needed

PUBLISHED: 11:59 07 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:59 07 December 2017

Proms in the Park, the culmination of the 2017 Letchworth Festival. Picture: Alan Millard

Proms in the Park, the culmination of the 2017 Letchworth Festival. Picture: Alan Millard

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Letchworth Festival is set to return next year after a vote to save it – but it may look a bit different from the 2017 version.

Letchworth Festival's Hilary Kemp. Picture: Letchworth FestivalLetchworth Festival's Hilary Kemp. Picture: Letchworth Festival

That was the conclusion of a packed public meeting at Mrs Howard Memorial Hall on Tuesday night, after fears it might have to be cancelled.

A vote was taken to keep the festival going in a scaled-down form next year, rather than scrapping it completely – with a final decision set to be made next month.

Hilary Kemp, who was responsible last year for building links between the festival and business, will step up to fill the role of chair Akua Obeng-Frimpong – who has stepped down to spend more time supporting her family.

The loss of Akua late in the organising process for next year’s festival had resulted in fears it might be necessary to cancel the annual event.

Hilary told the meeting she was willing to take the lead to ensure the festival continued, but that she would need help from the community to save it.

She said: “It would be a real shame for Letchworth to lose its festival. I am therefore prepared to step up and take on the role so ably filled by Akua last year.

“I will need support. Volunteers and sponsors are now more important than ever before – and without those, there remains a question mark over whether we can proceed.”

Outlining plans for a slimmed-down 2018 festival, Hilary said the committee had agreed to make clearer the distinction between the fringe events held during the festival period and the main events put on by the committee.

The 2018 festival is set to run a week later than originally planned, starting on June 16 and ending two weeks later.

Community day and Proms in the Park would now take place over a single weekend, that of June 30 and July 1, rather than bookending the festival.

Hilary ended with appeal to the people of Letchworth, saying: “The future of the Festival is looking a lot rosier than it did a fortnight ago. But we are not out of the woods yet.

“The message is clear – we are committed to making a success of Festival 2018. But we cannot do so without the support of local residents. So if you think you can help in any way, please come. All are very welcome.”

If you’d like to get involved, see letchworthfestival.org.

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