The organiser of a Kids Rock Festival at Joss Bay over the weekend has apologised for issues on the day that resulted in a number of complaints.
The festival, which was held on the famer’s field by the bay, was organised by business owner Katie Lawrance who spent six months putting the event together.
Bands, a fair, entertainment, activities and food and drink stalls were promised with the event using a cashless ‘online pay and top up’ system.
But there were complaints that the system did not work and huge queues were in place for everything from topping up wristbands to rides, food and drink.
There were also complaints that wristbands tightened and had to be cut off.
Some families said they got around the food issue by ordering Uber Eats and enjoyed the live bands and events but many were angry that their children had been hungry and bored with queueing.
Katie, who runs Vibrant Events, was staging the festival for the first time.
Responding to complaints she posted on social media to explain what happened and apologise.
She said: “I would firstly like to apologise to the upset customers. Kids Rock is not a huge corporate company, the entire company is run by me and me only. Everything you saw yesterday was put together by one person in 6 months and during a pandemic. It was also my first festival.”
She said she had been let down by the cashless system which was supposed to mean quicker checkouts and less queues and be beneficial for the safeguarding of children. She said: “The technical issues with the system at the start of the event were a big problem that I would like to apologise for. Cashless was a mistake and we will not be using it again. I am as annoyed as you all are with it, because it wasn’t meant to cause problems, it was supposed to make the day easier and stress free. The technical issues with this were resolved by the afternoon.”
A lack of catering traders also resulted in big queues for food and drink. Katie said: “We were on track to have 10 food stalls. Two days before the event, I was told the lorry that contains all of the food stalls had broken down on its way back from an event in Wales. The tyre had burst which then caused the lorry to fall on the kerb and damage the axle.
“The company I was using for the food stalls was then only able to supply me with 5 food stalls, and with the event being so close, we were unable to find any more stalls available at such short notice. This put them under a huge amount of pressure and they did an amazing job and worked as hard as they could to feed you all. On the day I was frantically trying to find more food stalls to alleviate the queues and managed to find one more that did arrive in the afternoon.”
Traders who had been due to run the bar had also dropped out at late notice, Katie said, and another stepped in but only had a few days to prepare.
Many festival-goers also commented on a lack of checking covid tests at the entrance.
In response Katie said: “The security company I hired had been told months, weeks and many times on the day to check the Covid tests. I was advised by them that they were checking, so I apologise if a few slipped through the net. I could only do so much, I was telling them over and over again to check. I’m fuming about that and won’t be using that security company again.”
She added that the bubble football advertised for the festival had closed early due to the bad weather and that different wristbands, that could not tighten, would be used in the future.
She said: “We had free circus workshops, a walkabout magician, a children’s entertainer hosting the day and who also did a magic show, we had amazing live bands, 8 fun fair rides, face painting, glitter tattoos and an evening fire performance.
“The music was on all day and I understand it was quiet at times, when this happened I was telling them to turn it up. There was lots of entertainment provided for how cheap the tickets were.
“All in all, I know that the majority of customers did have an amazing time. I would like to say a huge thanks to all involved.
“My staff and volunteers worked non stop to try and manage the queues as quickly as they could, ensured the site was clean and tidy at all times and were all total superstars. Even the farmer who owns the field went above and beyond assisting me in the lead up to the event and even on the day, he was absolutely amazing.
“With this being my first festival, I have learnt a huge amount on how to improve for next year. I am super passionate about the work I do and my blood, sweat and tears went into (this event). It’s difficult hosting a festival on your own and for next year I will be able to hire more staff. I will take all comments onboard on how to improve, as I truly care about creating an amazing experience.”
The event had a 5,000 person capacity.