Festival craft stallholders miss Blackmore venue

Mixed feelings over success of Kennaway House venue for FolkWeek craft stalls

THERE have been mixed opinions over the success of Folk Week Craft Fair, in its second season at its venue on Kennaway Lawn.

Tom Berks, of Newton Abbot, said: “It’s a wonderful venue and it seems well planned.

“Being near the seafront, and by the bus stops, a lot of people seem to know about this place and come walking through.”

Tom’s stall, Fingal, is enjoying its first year in Sidmouth, but he has been to other festivals.

However, there are conflicting views on the location. Camille Robinson, of Cornish Stained Glass, felt that Blackmore Gardens had been a better venue for the craft stalls. She said: “We felt then like we were a part of the festival. The craft’s tent used to draw people up there, but here it feels a little tucked out of the way.”

She is not alone in feeling it has been detrimental to business. A stallholder from Colour Scape Jewellery commented: “We miss being in Blackmore Gardens.

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“Obviously we are thankful for having somewhere, but we are losing trade here. The old venue had a party atmosphere which is difficult to replicate.”

They put this down to people “moving through quicker, and therefore taking less time to browse. It was better when we had a more grassy area, but there is just too much competition for that now.”

On the other hand, Charles, from Salisbury, whose homemade fudge stall has enjoyed 11 years at the festival, had a different explanation for the lack of trade.

“I’ve been to several different sites at the festival over the years, and this one is brilliant. But the recession is hitting us hard. There are no fewer customers than usual, but they are spending less money this year.”