Angry festival-goers slam Jimmy’s Farm over ‘nightmare’ camp site that became a ‘field of mud’ at Sausage and Beer Festival
PUBLISHED: 06:43 28 July 2015 | UPDATED: 09:30 29 July 2015
More than 18,500 people attended the festival at the 100-acre farm in Wherstead at the weekend, which was hit by heavy rainfall.
But Jimmy’s Farm Facebook page was inundated with messages from visitors complaining that the camp site was “not fit for purpose” amid reports dozens of tents were uprooted, damaged and sent flying when unseasonal weather hit the barley field in which most of the tents were pitched on Friday night.
Others expressed concerns over a lack of toilet facilities and stalls, prompting hour-long queues for both, and loud live music playing beyond 11pm on Sunday.
Last night, Jimmy’s Farm issued a strong defence of the festival, saying the weather was “beyond our control” and insisted the majority of visitors enjoyed an “incredible experience”. However, it conceded improvements could be made for next year.
Last year, around 15,000 people attended the festival, which this year cost £45 for adults, £25 for children and was free for those aged under two.
Claire Barry, 40, who attended the festival with her children Hugo, nine, and Kenza, seven, for their main summer holiday said she was left “angry and upset” after her £385 tent was badly damaged.
Ms Barry, of Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, said: “We tried to camp but had a complete nightmare and now have two traumatised children after what can only be described as a night from hell.
“Yes, the weather was awful, but if we had been provided with a proper camping ground rather being put in a muddy flint field then the complete carnage would have been prevented.
“Tents were ripped out of the ground and blown away and ours collapsed twice on us in the night as the pegs just could not grip into the ground.
“We witnessed debris blowing around and knocking into little children, which was quite disturbing too. It was dangerous and really scary – and we were in a lovely grass field last year.
“It cost a small fortune to camp at the festival – more than £100 I believe – but due to an unfit ground we now also have to pay for a new tent plus replace other belongings.
“It was a very upsetting and costly experience and there is still no formal apology, yet alone an acknowledgement of a refund.”
Craig Edwards, who camped on Friday night, said: “Many experienced campers including myself put some of the blame of the tent damage and carnage down to the open exposed ploughed field which we were made to camp in.
“No-one can blame the weather, yet, like many, I have camped in worse (conditions) but never in a ploughed field. It was a nightmare. Kids were screaming and campers were holding on to tents in fear of being blown away.
“According to campers who went last year, camping was in a sheltered grass field last year.
“Jimmy’s Farm response is they can’t control the weather. I agree, but providing a suitable camp site like last year, they could have.”
A line-up including Toploader, Athlete and The Shires performed at the weekend at Jimmy’s Farm, which has become a nationally-acclaimed site in recent years.
Babergh District Council was yesterday asked if they had received any complaints about the festival, particularly noise complaints.
A spokesman for the authority said the environmental protection team was investigating the matter, but despite requests, the spokesman did not comment further.
This newspaper asked Jimmy’s Farm to address the concerns raised by festival-goers, in particular over the camp site provision, a lack of toilet facilities and stalls and live music being played beyond 11pm on Sunday night and disturbing residents.
A request to interview a festival organiser went unanswered. But in a statement, a spokesman for Jimmy’s Farm said: “We’d like to thank everyone who attended the Sausage and Beer Festival – more than 18,500 people came with over 150 East Anglian businesses trading, supporting, and supplying the event – we were delighted that so many people supported local businesses and enjoyed the event.
“With an event of this size, it takes detailed planning and over the last year we have worked closely with the Suffolk Advisory Group, the local authority, the police and fire and ambulance services who all advised the traffic plans were suitable for the license.
“Some visitors clearly experienced problems and the weather for example was beyond our control.
“However we are committed to addressing all the feedback from our visitors and will work with the local authorities, our internal logistics teams and suppliers to ensure that 2016 will be a smoother experience for everyone.
“The festival remains one of the most affordable weekend events in the UK and is now one of Suffolk’s biggest. We will make every endeavour to improve upon all aspects.”
The statement added: “The vast majority of visitors had an incredible experience.
“We have had a small number of people give feedback about queues and we will work with the authorities and the producers to make the experience even better next year.”
Meanwhile, other comments on Jimmy Farm’s Facebook page included:
Dom Stevens said: “When we arrived there was carnage on the camp site. Jimmy’s Farm can’t be held accountable for the weather (but) they can for not creating a safe, secure family camp site and (know) what was coming.
“The camp site was a ploughed stoney field. Whoever decided to use this has never camped in their lives. The toilet facilities weren’t regularly cleaned and there were not enough of them. There wasn’t running water at all times, a necessity when you have small children.
“Also, having being an organiser on events that attract more the 30,000 people a day, there wasn’t the infrastructure across the whole site to cope with the capacity.”
Richard Reed said: “When you call the festival sausage and beer, then why not have more bars, I had to queue for close to an hour twice just to get a beer, can’t be acceptable really? Too many other foodie and festivals with far better organisation. Sorry Jimmy more effort and staff required.”
Lindsey Hoyle Manly said: “I feel they were totally overwhelmed this year by the amount of people. I expect to queue, but over an hour for a drink or food is pants. Such a shame...as we loved it last year, but I don’t think we’ll be back.”
Michelle Davis said: “I enjoyed myself but I have to agree there were nowhere near enough facilities for the extra people. All I seemed to do all day was queue.
“There were not enough toilets… young toddlers had to queue and were crying as (they) could not wait in the queue for over 20 minutes.”
Adam Keeble said: “I don’t make a habit of complaining… but if we can hear you three miles away at 11.10pm on a Sunday night I shudder to think what I must be like for the poor people who live near you. Perhaps a bit more consideration for the people of Ipswich might be nice in future. Friday/Saturday night ok but on a Sunday.......not really on Jimmy.”
Yasmin Robinson said: “I have camped in worse weather however the field of mud and stones was not fit for purpose of camping.”
But Julie Martin said: “Myself and my family really enjoyed it. Have to say it was better set out this year and yes I can see people’s point of view about the queuing and lack of toilets but it’s the same everywhere you go for such an event!! Jimmy and his team have done an excellent job of organising this and we can’t wait till next year then we’ll be able to experience some more.”
Morag Ash added: “We had a brilliant time. It was a nightmare Friday night not camped in weather like that for a long time but we survived and all was forgotten once the sun came out. We will definitely be back thank you Jimmy and your team for organising a great mini festival.”
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