Festival organiser vows to repair shocking damage to Sheffield park, and says event could return to city

The organiser of a music festival which turned a popular Sheffield park into a mud bath has vowed to repair the damage, blaming the mess on ‘unprecedented’ weather.

Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 09:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 13:53 pm

He also told how the event will ‘definitely come back’ to the city if his team can ‘find the right fit’ with Sheffield Council.

Around 8,000 revellers poured into Ponderosa Park in Netherthorpe on Saturday for Fire in the Park, an urban music festival featuring performances from Giggs, Charlie Sloth and Jay1.

Organisers described the event as a ‘phenomenal’ success’ despite the heavy rain which forced them to cancel the Bass in the Park festival planned for the following day.

Ponderosa Park after the Fire in the Park festival which took place on Saturday, September 28 (pic: John Conway)

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But shocking photos shared online show the extent of damage to the park, with vehicles having churned up the turf and tree branches scattered over the ground.

Councillors have told organisers to put right the damage urgently so families can enjoy the park, and said they are working with them to ensure this happens.

Ian Baird, event manager for the festivals, said yesterday evening: “We will put the park back to how it was. We have contractors looking at it and it will happen as soon as the weather allows.

“It’s a couple of days works but the seeding may continue to take place up to next spring.

“We went into the event with bad weather but good forecasts and built the site as planned. On Friday, when we had a walk around everyone was very content but since then we’ve had horrifically severe weather which was unprecedented and unforeseeable.”

Ponderosa Park has previously hosted Tramlines and Peace in the Park, but one resident told how those festivals had ‘never caused this scale of damage’.

The decision to stage a major festival at this time of year has been questioned but Mr Baird defended the timing, insisting the weather had been ‘unseasonably poor’. He claimed it could not have been moved earlier as it had to be held during university term time to attract students.

Despite the criticism, he claimed the event had been a big hit and could return to the city.

“The feedback’s been phenomenal. Local people from around the area have told us they really enjoyed it, as well as people from out of town,” he said....

“We definitely don’t want to leave Sheffield because we’ve really enjoyed our time here.

“If we find the right fit we will definitely come back, but that’s a decision we’ll have to take in discussion with the council.”

Saturday’s festival was also blighted by violence, with a 25-year-old man stabbed in the neck in the park at around 10pm that evening, but Mr Baird insisted it had been well run.

“I believe there was an incident on the Saturday, which we can’t comment on as there’s an ongoing investigation,” he said.

“But we were very pleased with the overall management of the event and we’ve had good responses from police and the council on other elements apart from the weather.”