Isle of Wight Festival 2008: it worked

Matthew Chatfield
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The earlier post in advance of the Isle of Wight Festival described – with a little apprehension – the preparations for hoards of people to descend on one of The Ranger’s nature reserves. The clean-up now being well under way, it’s pleasing to report a success.

Isle of Wight Festival, Friday 13 June 2008

Far fewer people turned up than last year, and those that did were (mostly) much better behaved. When The Ranger was patrolling the site on the Sunday night – usually the biggest night of the Festival – the scene was as in the photo above. A good number of people were there, but it was still far from the drunken hordes which blighted the site on occasion last year. Mind you, it wasn’t entirely good news, of course: a few unpleasant incidents occurred, and there was some nasty stuff to clear up. The worst thing was the fires: why will people build fires under trees? It really is the worst place, and the damage simply can’t be repaired. Plenty of scars and patches from last year still exist on the ground, and now they are joined by another lot. Under every one any tree or plant roots which exist are boiled to death, leaving a sterile slot ideal for nettles and ragwort to colonise. In ten year’s time the site will look like a crazy golf course if people can’t control their fire-lighting inclinations.

A view of the site during the busiest night of the Festival.

With a few days of reflection it’s possible to see how things could be handled better next year, but actually only minor changes will be necessary if the council decides it wishes to do things the same way. Of course, to do all this did cost quite a bit of taxpayers’ money, and there are still other options, but certainly if people behave as they did this year it’s encouraging, and a pleasing endorsement of the trust that was placed in them. Perhaps one way to limit damage really is simply to trust your visitors.

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

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