Taste of the South Festival suffers from poor attendances after venue move

Organisers of a two-day food festival that took place in Christchurch over the weekend have said they will learn from the experience after a poor turnout left traders disappointed.

The second annual Taste of the South Festival was held at Chapel Gate near Bournemouth Airport on Saturday and Sunday.

Last year the festival took place at Poole Park as part of Poole’s Maritime Festival celebrations.

Billed as a celebration of all things from the South, the festival featured live music, cooking demonstrations and stalls from local producers.

However, one stall holder told the Daily Echo trade had been “abysmal” on the Saturday.

Toby Bradley-Watson, owner of Assembelly which is based in Lymington, said: “We took an eighth of what we should have. The footfall was tiny. We were told to expect around 13,000 people and we must have had around 1,000.”

Mr Bradley-Watson said it is the first time he had appeared at the Taste of the South festival and he had been asked to attend by organisers and he had paid £500 for the stand for the two days.

He said: “Last week we were in Weymouth and they couldn’t be more different.”

By 4pm on Saturday, he claimed around 12 stall holders had already packed up and left with some saying they would not be returning for a second day.

He said: “The location’s bad, the footfall’s bad, there’s no passing trade because of where it is and they haven’t hired any buses to get people to and from the town centre.”

One visitor who contacted the Daily Echo said: “We paid £4 entry and had a great time sampling and buying from all the fab stalls. We spent a fortune and came away with lots of goodies. The trouble was that there was no one there! I felt so sorry for the stall holders, some packed up early in disgust.”

On Sunday, the £7 on the door entry fee had been dropped in a bid to entice more festival-goers.

Jackie Phillipson, one of the organisers, said on Sunday: “We learn from every event we arrange, and we were in talks with our traders yesterday and again today. We have done everything possible to support them and it is always important to us that we work together.”

She added: “Unfortunately the attendance was lower than last year, we brought the event back for 2018 based on the positive feedback and the success of the previous year many of the year 1 traders came back to us this year.”

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