Old Gaffers Festival Back!
The Old Gaffers Festival makes a welcome return to the Isle of Wight entertainment calendar this year. After its absence in 2016 due to a lack of financial support, the Gaffers will take place in Yarmouth on June 2nd, 3rd and 4th, with organisers having worked overtime to make it bigger and better than ever.
This will be the 20th year of the ever-popular Festival, which attracts not only thousands of Island residents but also visitors from the mainland. Debbie Cotton has been Chair of the Old Gaffers Committee for the past 15 years, and is delighted to have acquired the sponsorship that has ensured its survival.
Debbie said: “The Old Gaffers is something that has always been close to my heart, and when I was approached to go on the committee I agreed to do it for one year – and I’m still here! But it is run by a marvellous group of volunteers and the whole purpose is to put on an event by the community for the community, and to bring business to Yarmouth.
“Because we didn’t have sufficient funds in the bank, and we are all volunteers, we couldn’t risk putting the event on last year. In November we officially closed down the committee, but I later approached several businesses, and met Keith Greenfield, the new chief executive officer of Wightlink. He agreed to sponsor the Festival, along with David Thornton from Visit Isle of Wight, so they saved the day. Without their support, and that of other sponsors, it would not be happening.”
Sponsorship is vital to maintain the Old Gaffers, simply because entrance is free, and the only charges being car parking, and admission to the music marquee on the Friday or Saturday after 6.30pm. But the £10 entrance fee is great value for money to watch some excellent acts.
More than 100 Old Gaffers boats, moored in the harbour ready for their regatta, provide the perfect backdrop for the on-shore entertainment, which is virtually non-stop over the three days. Programmes can be bought for £3, of which £1 is donated directly to charity, with this year’s recipients being the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance.
Titan the Robot, a favourite with kids of all ages, will be at the Festival on the Saturday, giving three performances throughout the day in Yarmouth Square, which will also be housing a new International Market, with stalls and crafts from around the world. The Street Theatre group from Covent Garden, singers, groups and comedy acts will also be performing to add to the festivities, while the Children’s Area will include a magnificent new blow-up slide, along with a magician and many more attractions.
A classic vehicle display and lifeboat demonstrations will also be at the Festival, while St James’ Church will host a colourful Flower Festival, and the Character Inns Bar on the Quay will host one of the Isle of Wight’s largest real ale festivals across the weekend.
Friday night entertainment in the marquee will be provided by Island favourites Lucid, Nakamarra and Star Tribute, and on Saturday evening the theme will be rock n roll and swing. Artists performing include the Regular Joes, Company B-Uk, the Wight Hot Pipes and Rule the World – a Take That tribute band.