Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Grand National??

Hmmmmm. Not sure how I feel about last weekend’s IWA National Waterways Festival. We had an extremely jolly time there on Sunday, but I doubt very much that the festival achieved it’s aims either financially or in terms of raising awareness of waterways.

One food stall holder told us she was unlikely to make take enough money to cover her pitch fee.  She had been told to expect 30,000 visitors over the weekend. Now I am not especially keen on straw as a food stuff, but I’ll eat my summer hat if that particular number was achieved.  Those folk who did come of course benefited from the lack of crowds and there were some interesting things to see and do, albeit a relatively small number of trade stalls to waste their money on.  I suppose that if the ones that were there didn’t make any money, the IWA are on a slippery slope.

And where were the boats?  Come to mention it, where was the canal?  A good ten minutes walk out of the site, that’s where.  I doubt that one in four of the attendees actually got down to the canal.  Think of all those hours boaters spent tying broom handles to boat chimneys to erect their lines of bunting. 

For kids of course it was great. IWA had arranged a splendid circuit of activities for kids to do, collecting stickers for a passport, and there was little queueing.  Our little Grace made a brilliant knotted cord dragonfly, a headband with a duck on it and a decorated plate as well as having a free go on a real digger at the WRG stand.  It’s not fair, why do kids get to drive a digger and not me?



Grace also had a go in one of those big balls that float on the water, something else denied to big kids like me.




There was of course the inevitable gathering of boating bloggers in the beer tent. Ourselves, the Ducks, the Chertseys and the Halfies. So enjoyable was that, that we hung on for ages after the official festival chucking out time. By the time we sneaked out the back gate the festival site was already semi demolished.

Now I know the National is suppose to be put on for noble purposes, whereas the Crick show is put on for pure mercenary and business motives, but in all honesty I think the Crick show does more to attract people to the waterways than the National.  And the funfair at Crick is free!!


Leo No2 said...


I am sadly in agreement with you. Four days to get there by boat and four days back again plus the £65 fee to go - was it worth it - absolutely not.

The boats were far to far from the site, the two fully laden historic boats Fazeley and Clover (which looked beautiful) were gone by lunchtime n Sunday - I do think the IWA have lost their reason for being at these festivals - I didn't enjoy Little Venice and regrettably the same applies to Cassiobury Park. It was not a boater's event.


Carrie said...

The best part was watching Grace have such a great time :-)

Neil Corbett said...

Whoops, just realised we didn't mention we had also met up with you and Simon, Carrie. That's probably because you are practically family:-)

Val Poore said...

What a shame. A waterways festival should focus on waterways and boats - otherwise there's not point, surely!