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First Ever ParkgateFest is a Phenomenal Success

Author: Carrie Spacey Published: 5th June 2017 13:05

After months of planning, many a sleepless night and plenty of nerves, the inaugural ParkgateFest took place on the first weekend of June and was roundly praised as a wonderful family event.

The final tally has yet to be confirmed, but it is estimated that around 5,000 people came through the gates over the two days, onto fields surrounding Marsh Nurseries on Boathouse Lane in Parkgate, which had been transformed into an amazing space for people of all ages to enjoy the sunshine and be entertained.

A massive amount of physical work had gone into making the site viable, with fields being drained, ditches dug, bridges built and ground levelled.  

ParkgateFest 2017Result! The first ParkgateFest was a huge success. Photo by Gail Wilson

Local traders and organisations had a large hand in the planning and delivery of the event. 

The main music stage was in the hands of Hip & Harmony's Paula Prytherch and Gareth Prytherch, with Paula sharing MC duties with Paul Smith.  A tremendous menu of musical entertainment was delivered, from locally grown acts (Two Black Sheep, Discover, Acoustic Milkfloat and Shark Sandwich, to name but a few) through to headlining tribute acts (Made in Liverpool, AKA Noel Gallagher, Mamma Mania and It's a Kinda Queen, amongst others), there really was something for everyone. 

ParkgateFest 2017'Freddie Mercury' and It's a Kinda Queen topped the bill on Sunday.  Photo by Gail Wilson

No-one enjoying the music while relaxing on haybales in the beautiful Parkgate sunshine could have guessed what had gone on behind the scenes just hours before.  The stage and sound equipment originally intended for the event came a cropper on the motorway on Friday night (thankfully nobody was hurt).  The day was saved by a call to local resident Andrew Culshaw who works for Adlib Sound and Light in Liverpool. He managed to pull together stage, sound and lights substitutes in a matter of hours, all being on site and set up ready to go on Saturday morning - nothing short of a miracle!

Paula Prytherch, who had put together the musical line-up for the festival, as well as appearing on stage as both a performer and co-compere, said afterwards: "I can't thank the sound, stage and light guys enough and especially Andrew Culshaw for saving the day.

"I'm really proud of all the local performers who entertained brilliantly over the weekend and big thanks to the acts we brought in from further afield, they were all fantastic."

A second stage, featuring mainly acoustic performances, was set up in the Elephant beer tent, with proceedings overseen by Sye Seabrook.

ParkgateFest 2017A wide range of musical offerings, to suit most tastes.

Food, drink and stalls for all

Visitors to the festival enjoyed a range of food and drink offerings from local traders, including Elephant Collective (Beer Tent, Cocktails, Wood-fired Pizzas and Coffee), Mozkitos Coffee House (Mozzy Bites, Midgy Barbecue and a Midgy Bites stand in the Kids' area); The Ship Hotel (Beer and Gin tent), 1 Mostyn Square (Waffle Hut), Nicholls Ice Cream and delightful vegetarian offerings.  Proving very popular near to the stage was a handy Prosecco van!

ParkgateFest 2017Elephant Collective offered coffee and wood-fired pizzas at the event. Photo by Bernard Rose.

Stalls featured everything from clothing (Hawk boutique, Neston and Trip, Parkgate) to artwork, bric-a-brac, candles, metal sculptures, cheese, giftware and colourful woven baskets on display, offering festival-goers the chance to pick up items to take home. 

Plenty for youngsters to do

ParkgateFest 2017Neston Community Youth Centre's team ran a lot of the activities on the Kids Field. Photo by Bernard Rose

Kids were very well catered for. With workshops and fun activities run by Neston Community Youth Centre's Zaria, Ruth and Steve; KidZone, BabyZone, giant bubbles and Kids' parades co-ordinated by Kerry Jackson;  pony rides from Parkgate Pony Sanctuary, an assault course, fairground rides, bushcraft demonstrations, falconry and, to everyone's particular delight, The Sheep Show.  The latter was a very amusing and informative show, including a demonstration of sheep shearing and nine different sheep breeds 'dancing' at the end.  The KidZone field was beautifully adorned with yards and yards of home-made bunting, created by a team of volunteers led by Chris Lett.

ParkgateFest 2017Huge crowds enjoyed every single performance of 'The Sheep Show' over the weekend.

Steam engines were out in force, from very small to very large!  They made quite a spectacle during their occasional forays off down The Parade, as well as giving people the opportunity to hitch a ride.

ParkgateFest 2017Steam engines went out and about in Parkgate.  Photo by Bernard Rose

Cheshire Police had a strong presence, creatively engaging with members of the community and, fortunately, their usual services were not required, as the event passed off peacefully.

From concept to delivery

Core organisers Sue Saunders and Stuart Rigby came up with the original concept for the festival with Parkgate Councillor Martin Barker and were soon joined by a group of local people offering help in a variety of ways.  One of the first on board was Steve Nelson from Constables Estate Agents (the event's main sponsor), swiftly followed by Hip & Harmony's Paula Prytherch, Carrie Spacey from AboutMyArea, the Parkgate Society (Alan Passmore and David Johnson in particular), local resident Roy Wilson, Russ Brooks from Marsh Nurseries and Gareth Prytherch from Neston Community Youth Centre.   An army of volunteers manned the gates, looked after the performers, entertained the children, tidied away the litter and much more. 

This first event represented a significant financial risk for the organisers, so the support of various business sponsors, and the trust the public showed by buying tickets before fully knowing what to expect, was a huge boost.

ParkgateFest 2017Pictured just before the start of the festival are most of the ParkgateFest organising team.  Front row (l-r): Stuart Rigby, Sue Saunders, Roy Wilson, Steve Nelson, Paula Prytherch.  Back row (l-r): Martin Barker, Alan Passmore, David Johnson, Jamie Milligan, Carrie Spacey, Gareth Prytherch, Sam Lincoln.

Speaking at the end of the event, Cllr Martin Barker said: "I am extremely proud to have been part of a team who delivered such a magnificent event. So many people to thank, however, special mention must go to Sue Saunders and Stuart Rigby and the Saunders family, Steve Nelson and his team, Paula and Gareth Prytherch, Paul Smith, AboutMyArea, and all the volunteers, including Dave Johnson and everyone from the Parkgate Society, Neston Community Youth Centre, Roy Wilson, David and Marnie Clark and many, many more.

"Also, a big thank you to all the people who attended the event, your support and enthusiasm was much appreciated. This was our first event and it could not have gone any better!"

Sue Saunders said: "When a vision becomes a reality; ParkgateFest has been born!

"We couldn't have done it without our amazing visitors, we love you all and this is just the beginning."

David Johnson from Parkgate Society added: "What an amazing weekend, that I can honestly say brought tears to our eyes. It was hard work setting it all up, but was so enjoyable and seeing so many happy families was the icing on the cake."

ParkgateFest 2017And at the very end...organisers Paula, Steve, Martin, Stuart and Sue are congratulated by Paul Smith.

With the success of this year's event it seems highly likely that this will become the annual festival that all had hoped to achieve.  After costs and some reserves kept back to prepare for next year's event, proceeds from ParkgateFest 2017 will be donated to the Parkgate Vision, a plan for a variety of improvements to the Parkgate community area.

It would be very difficult to describe absolutely everything that went on, so we will now let the photos speak for themselves.  All photos not credited to a contributor are the copyright of AboutMyArea. You are welcome to copy them onto your own social media feeds, but we would appreciate it if you could also include a link back to this article. You can cut and paste this short URL for convenience: https://goo.gl/1XZ503

A short video, created by Yonda Aerial Systems Ltd, can be viewed on the Constables website here.

Our special thanks to Bernard Rose, Luisa Jones, Nick Hardy, Jamie Milligan and Gail Wilson for contributed photos.


 In no particular order!

ParkgateFest 2017A still taken from aerial footage of ParkgateFest, early on Saturday morning, shot by Yonda Aerial Systems Ltd

ParkgateFest 2017Made In Liverpool - an excellent Beatles tribute band.

ParkgateFest 2017Bubbles!

ParkgateFest 2017Bigger bubbles! Photo by Gail Wilson

ParkgateFest 2017The Mozkitos team worked their socks off over the weekend. Photo by Bernard Rose

ParkgateFest 2017The team at Marsh Nurseries worked tirelessly to get everything ready for the event.

ParkgateFest 2017Local resident and poet Barrie Youde shows his appreciation for the Steam Engine as it trundles past his home.

ParkgateFest 2017Police through the ages were on site, but thankfully no trouble to deal with.

ParkgateFest 2017Sue Embley was the winner of the Early Bird ticket purchase competition, her prize is a luxury holiday in Tenerife. 

ParkgateFest 2017Hip & Harmony's 64 N'Ukes and community choir were amongst the performers early on in the day.

ParkgateFest 2017The Ship Inn had set up a gin bar and beer tent, offering a range of high quality tipples. Photo by Bernard Rose

ParkgateFest 2017Steam engines were on display, in all shapes and sizes. Photo by Bernard Rose.

ParkgateFest 2017Who's the daddy?  A slightly larger engine!

ParkgateFest 2017

ParkgateFest 2017Home-made waffles from 1 Mostyn Square.  Photo by Bernard Rose

ParkgateFest 2017Cars new...

ParkgateFest 2017...and old.

ParkgateFest 2017Hawk boutique (Brook Street, Neston) was one of many local traders with goods on display

ParkgateFest 2017Fun for all the family, with two legs and four.  Photo by Gail Wilson

ParkgateFest 2017There was a Kids Parade on both days, wearing and waving items they had made out of a variety of natural and recycled materials. Photo by Bev Astley

ParkgateFest 2017

ParkgateFest 2017Pony rides were organised by next door neighbours the Parkgate Pony Sanctuary

ParkgateFest 2017Brad and Billy's arms were aching after two solid days of shaking cocktails.

ParkgateFest 2017Stalls for local traders were on loan from Neston Town Council.

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Luisa Jones

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Louisa Jones

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Luisa Jones

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Luisa Jones

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Luisa Jones

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Luisa Jones

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Luisa Jones

ParkgateFest 2017Acoustic Milkfloat, another great local band

ParkgateFest 2017The Ship Hotel, moved temporarily to ParkgateFest for the weekend.  Photo by Bernard Rose

ParkgateFest 2017Great fun was had with the team from the Royal Navy

ParkgateFest 2017

ParkgateFest 2017PC Tom Grant, Inspector Lisa Wilson and PCSO Jackie Tudor were amongst Cheshire police representatives at the event

ParkgateFest 2017These artists created a portrait of photographer Bernard Rose...the likeness is uncanny!

ParkgateFest 2017AKA Noel Gallagher

ParkgateFest 2017

ParkgateFest 2017Local group The Night Whispers entertained on Saturday

ParkgateFest 2017Even the very youngest of visitors was catered for, at the Baby Zone.

ParkgateFest 2017Fizz? don't mind if I do!

ParkgateFest 2017

ParkgateFest 2017

ParkgateFest 2017

ParkgateFest 2017Paula Prytherch's own band, Discover, got people into a disco vibe on Saturday evening

ParkgateFest 2017Hoop-tastic fun with NCYC

ParkgateFest 2017Thank you for the music - finishing the night's entertainment on Saturday were Mamma Mania.

ParkgateFest 2017Here's Parkgate Society's David Johnson enjoying Mamma Mania!

ParkgateFest 2017Beatle-mania!

ParkgateFest 2017

ParkgateFest 2017Another full day of entertainment on the Sunday

ParkgateFest 2017'George Michael' with a nostalgic performance.

ParkgateFest 2017Refreshments for little ones, too!

ParkgateFest 2017

ParkgateFest 2017The acoustic stage in Elephant Bar was run by Sye Seabrook, who also performed with his band Shark Sandwich on the main stage, pictured below.

ParkgateFest 2017

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Nick Hardy

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Nick Hardy

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Nick Hardy

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Nick Hardy

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Jamie Milligan

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Jamie Milligan

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Jamie Milligan

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Jamie Milligan

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Jamie Milligan

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Jamie Milligan

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Jamie Milligan

ParkgateFest 2017Photo by Jamie Milligan

ParkgateFest 2017We will, we will, rock you....It's a Kinda Queen got everyone clapping....

ParkgateFest 2017....and dancing. A fabulous end to an amazing weekend.

And finally, a photo taken by Roy Wilson on Tuesday June 6th in windy, rainy weather...it's hard to believe it's the same field. The weather window for ParkgateFest was simply perfect.

ParkgateFest 2017 - after

Thank you everyone, it was a wonderful event for and by the local community.  See you next year!

More photos can be found on the festival's Facebook page, here.

Others will be added to ParkgateFest.co.uk in due course.

AboutMyArea Neston is proud to sponsor ParkgateFest



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CO Jones
At 16:09 on 5th June 2017, CO Jones commented:
As I said on the earlier dated article, it was absolutely spot on.

What the organisers produced on what must have been a relatively tight budget was very impressive. We had great fun over the 2 days.

Well done all and just in the nick of time weather wise!
At 15:47 on 6th June 2017, Parkgateresident commented:
Unfortunately this report does not reflect the effect of this event on neighbouring properties. The continuous noise from the event for 9 hours one day and 7 hours the next made normal life inside and outside the home impossible. Support for local businesses is commendable (most of whose owners do not live in Parkgate) but not at the expense of local residents who have been given no say in the matter. By all means arrange more events but please ensure that residents are consulted and their needs taken into consideration. We already have to cope with Pony Sanctuary events in the same area and should not have to be subjected to more weekends when the noise is inescapable. I love Parkgate, want to see it flourish but do not think that should be at the cost of local residents right to a tolerable environment.
Parkgatefest Team
At 17:39 on 6th June 2017, Parkgatefest Team commented:
Many thanks for your feedback,
There is a debrief planned and we will certainly take your comments into consideration.
The event was very well received by local traders and residents near and far, we appreciate your views and concerns and will certainly keep you informed of future events.
Kind regards
Parkgatefest Team
At 22:56 on 6th June 2017, ACemefcee commented:
I couldn't agree more Parkgateresident. As someone who also dislikes fun, my weekend was ruined. Never has my ghast been so flabbered as to see the community come together in such a fashion. I fail to see what appealed to the 5000 visitors over the weekend in question, and you can only imagine how shocked I was to observe many of these people were residents of Parkgate and Neston!! Awful. Thankfully it's only two days of the year or I'm not sure what I'd do. It's already difficult to listen to The Archers of the noise of the incessant donkey braying.
At 22:58 on 6th June 2017, ACemefcee commented:
Obviously I meant 'over' rather than 'of'. I told you that donkey was annoying.
Anthony A
At 10:20 on 7th June 2017, Anthony A commented:
Well done to the organisers for putting on an excellent show. Everyone in our group had a great time, and it was clear that everyone else was enjoying themselves too. So pleased that the weather was kind. I just hope the visitor numbers translate into it being a financial success too.

I’m surprised the person complaining about noise didn't add ‘Bah humbug!’ to their note. Surely some minor ‘inconvenience’ for two days out of 365 in a year is no big deal for an event that can make a substantial positive difference to the local community. It was no surprise the event was coming so why not go away for the day? Clearly ‘Parkgateresic’ is a glass-half-empty kind of person. I thought the organisers did the best they could, sensitively siting the stage 200 metres or more from the nearest house. We have the same ‘inconvenience’ when the cricket club put on events on a handful of days a year – good luck to them too.
It's only me
At 11:15 on 7th June 2017, It's only me commented:
We took our grandchildren to the 'fest' and all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The entry price was fair and all of the free entertainment was superb particularly 'The Sheep Show'. The food and drink set up was good too. A couple of suggestions - maybe the pizza stall could have provided pizza slices for the smaller appetite and the paid children's rides be priced more reasonably.
Also, I think there is room for dissenting comment on here - without abuse - if in the long term it helps provide an even better 'fest' in future.
Joey's Mum
At 11:44 on 7th June 2017, Joey's Mum commented:
Oh how we loved it!!!!! We felt very blessed to have something like this so close to home. There was plenty for all of our family from grandparents to tots. I thought the entry fee was good value given everything that was there, especially as we didn't have petrol or train fares to worry about with it being so near.

A few things to think about for next year that could make it even better: more loos, the queues were a bit much at times, agree with the person above about the pizza slices and also more soft drink options would be lovely, though I did enjoy a cocktail at one point!

Thanks and congratulations to everyone involved in this and long may it continue.
Anthony A
At 12:25 on 7th June 2017, Anthony A commented:
Comment noted 'It's only me', but I do think Parkgateresic appears prone to hyperbole. Was 'normal life' really 'impossible'? Where is his/her evidence that 'most' local business owners don't live in Parkgate? Such statements make one question the substance of their complaint.

Having said that, I'm sure the organisers will learn from this year's event, as they have indicated above (I'm not one of them by the way) and, assuming they run it again, will continue to do all they can to minimise any negative effects.
Lydia M
At 23:25 on 7th June 2017, Lydia M commented:
Well done to the organisers for a great event. I live very close to the fields and didn't find the music too loud although it could be clearly heard. There was no problem with traffic either as might have been expected with such a lot of visitors. I would like to know, however, if the loud voices and music playing around midnight on Sunday night was from people staying over. I didn't get up to find out but the noise did keep me awake! Apologies if this was wasn't festival people. Overall, I would welcome the event again next year.
Carrie Spacey
At 00:02 on 8th June 2017, Carrie Spacey responded:
Hi Lydia. We also heard loud voices on the Sunday night, as well as a loud bang, but it was nothing to do with the festival, as that had been closed and largely cleared away for some hours by then. The police helicopter was also up over the area on Sunday night/early Monday morning, trying to locate a missing person (thankfully she was found safely, subsequently), but again this was apparently unrelated to the shouting. If anyone can explain what was going on, our household would also like to know!
Paul D
At 12:18 on 8th June 2017, Paul D commented:
Brilliantly executed event, well done to all involved. Surely we can all cope with loud music for a couple of days a year. Very sensitive of the organisers to end the music at a reasonable time each evening too.
null n
At 01:49 on 9th June 2017, null n commented:
What an amazing event and well orchestrated by all - just brilliant.

I'm quite astounded reading the comments that anyone could find reason to complain about this event where thousands of people came together to have a great time, support local businesses and raise money for the local area.

I am sure there was noise during the days in question, I would be a bit disappointed with the bands if the music couldn't be heard, but surely 1 weekend a year for such an amazing event can be tolerated even by the most Bah-Humbug of our society.

What next ? Ban the Ladies Walk because people are heard to have fun for that day too ? Keep the kids indoors at our local schools so they can't be heard playing ?

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