THE Sawdoctors will play a free outdoor gig in Westport on Friday, July 27, next, as part of the 2012 Westport Music Festival On The Mall should the festival get the green light. The news came on Friday evening after it was revealed that an application for a three-day event was being lodged with Westport Town Council.
The festival will go ahead if a licence and permits are granted by Westport Town Council, and if discussions with An Garda Siochána and other parties are successful.
Many had thought the longstanding festival was not going ahead this year. At a meeting of Westport Town Council last Thursday, the elected members were dismayed to hear that no application for a festival had been lodged with the local authority.
A preliminary date for the festival – Friday, July 13 – had been agreed by the organisers and Westport Town Council. However, a statutory period of ten weeks must occur between the licence application and the event – and no application had been received by the Friday, May 4, deadline. It was therefore taken that the festival would not go ahead.
The council members then insisted on doing whatever was necessary to make the festival happen, but unbeknownst to them, the festival committee were busy in the background.
Rumours about the fate of the festival have circulated in recent weeks, however the organisers are keen to point out that The Sawdoctors will play in Westport on the later date of July 27 as part of the festival, should all permits and regulatory requirements fall into place. They do not anticipate encountering any obstacles to their plans.
It was expressed at Thursday’s council meeting that there was a wariness about the festival attracting an anti-social element, and drawing large crowds to the town in August, when it is usually already at full capacity. This drove the desire to have the event earlier in the summer. However, the festival’s new date of July 27 is also that of the the annual Croagh Patrick pilgrimage – Reek Sunday.
The plan is for a three-day festival, with other acts to be confirmed, and a heritage day on the Sunday. The possibility of hosting other novelty and accompanying events to create a real carnival atmosphere in the town is also being explored.
There was talk of having a nominal charge for the Sawdoctors gig, but the organisers are happy to keep the concerts free provided they are supported by the people who enjoy them and the businesses that benefit from them.
The Westport Music Festival has been criticised in the past for the poor quality of the acts. However, the financial burden on the committee had been great. With a more-stellar line up this year will come a huge financial hit, and with Fáilte Ireland not on board to support the event for 2012, donations will be needed more than ever to keep the festival free and make it a success. Diageo, through Newport native Peter Chambers, remains the main sponsor.
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