Plea issued to help save Isle’s Festival of the Plough,

Tony Catherall
Tony Catherall

An Isle event that has proved a massive attraction over many years could be in jeopardy for the future.

New blood to help carry the Festival of the Plough forward for future years is needed now, and that support is crucial, publicity secretary Tony Catherall has warned.

The annual Festival of the Plough came in to being as a small ploughing match for the farming community.

But as its popularity grew, new attractions were added to make it a full family event with activities to suit everyone.

Now in its thirty-third year, it has raised over £200,000 to date for local charities.

Poor weather in September almost led to a last minute cancellation, which would have been disastrous in terms of finance, said Mr Catherall.

He added: “It was a difficult situation this year and cancellation was discussed by the committee. We did run, but were left with a deficit of £3000. We were highly committed. Tentage alone cost over £6000 and had we pulled the plug, the financial cost would have been considerable.

“Some attractions could not appear due to the weather and we were sorry that was the case. The traction engines and fairground gallopers were cancelled along with the climbing wall, but these were done on grounds of health and safety.

“The weather brought takings down, but there is a further issue in that some people take pride in avoiding paying the entrance fee. It’s not good for those who do buy, and the aim of the whole thing is to raise cash for deserving causes.”

The committee, the majority of whom are past middle-age, are genuinely worried about what might happen, added Mr Catherall, particularly if there is another bad forecast for the next Festival.

In a bid to secure a future for the Isle’s crowd-puller, poster-flyers will be displayed locally, inviting anyone who might have an interest, however slight, to a meeting on January 7.

The informal ‘meet and greet’ information evening is from 7pm in the Thurlow Pavilion, Epworth.

It’s not a huge commitment for anyone who is willing to join us, said Mr Catherall.

“Volunteers are needed to help labour in the run up to the festival and on the day. Some fresh faces on the committee would be great.”

As it stands, the committee has three options to consider:

To carry on and hope for the best.

To make the event smaller and return to the notion of it being a simple ploughing match once more,.

Or to cancel it all together.

Flyers appealing for help will be delivered shortly.