Published: 05:00, 07 May 2022
The largest event in a Kent town’s calendar is set to go ahead despite huge funding cuts - signalling the return of a popular carnival for the first time in three years.
Organisers of Herne Bay Festival have announced they will plough ahead with the month-long extravaganza, following concerns the loss of a sizeable council grant could throw its future into doubt.
These fears were sparked by Canterbury City Council’s decision to remove subsidies from the event, as well as Whitstable Oyster Festival and Canterbury Food and Drink Festival, in February.
Trustee Garry Northwood says the festivities in the Bay will take place this summer, even though his team wants to raise a further £13,000 from grants and donations to bankroll the celebration.
“The situation is the festival will go ahead, but we’re still looking for funding – we’ve applied for some grants and are waiting for some answers,” he explained.
“We are trying to get local sponsors, and we’ve got one with the possibility of two more.
“It’s extremely important to the town - it’ll benefit local pubs, restaurants, cafés.
"We estimate that 25,000 people came to the events last year, and we hope to do the same again.”
Since 2018, the local authority contributed an average of £30,000 each year in grants, marketing and management contributions to Herne Bay Festival.
Organisers divided the cash given to them by the council between the various workshops, concerts and fetes that made up its programme.
The decision to cut event funding is expected to save the council a total of £39,000 a year.
Despite this, Mr Northwood says the schedule will still include Baytastic’s family fun day in Memorial Park on July 31, the Cartoon Festival and a seafront firework finale towards the end of August.
“So far, we’ve managed to raise £7,500,” he added.
“We’ve said if we can get £20,000 we can give it a good go, but we don’t know how likely that is.
“If we don’t raise that money, we won’t be able to give the events as much as they’re asking for.
“It’ll be up to them to raise the rest through other means or to thin down their events.”
The town’s oldest event, the carnival, will also form part of the programme, as it makes its return following a three-year hiatus.
The carnival procession was cancelled for the first time since the 1940s in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Organiser Andy Birkett also decided not to hold the pageant last year amid further Covid-induced uncertainty.
“The plan is to go ahead on August 13,” he told KentOnline.
“It might come back with a bit of a whimper because of the unease that’s still around - a lot of people are still wary of being involved in things like that.
“Towns like ours do need a carnival to promote them and to also bring people together."
To find out more on how to make a donation to Herne Bay Festival, visit https://gofund.me/4d941a8f or email firstname.lastname@example.org.