Kite surfing action at the Hunstanton Lifestyles Festival which has been cancelled. Picture: Ian Burt.
Organisers have confirmed the Lifestyles Festival, which was due to be held at Hunstanton over the weekend of September 20 – 22, has been cancelled.
But the committee behind the event, which has been held at Hunstanton every summer since 2005, are launching an appeal in the hope it could come back next year.
Liz Pendleton, chair of the Lifestyles Association committee, said: “There were a number of committee members looking to retire and there is also a sense of separation from the borough council.
“The event has got quite large, larger than its original plan and it has outgrown the council’s capacity to manage it.
“With so much change the decision from the committee was to stop the festival for a year.”
Elizabeth Nockolds, West Norfolk council’s portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: “We have supported the Lifestyles Festival from the start, and in some respects the event has been a victim of its own success.
“What started out as a small event has grown and grown and as a result the funding, organisation and management of the festival needs to change to allow that growth to continue.
“Members of the Lifestyles Festival committee are concentrating on establishing themselves as an independent organisation so that they can have better access to funding sources and further explore arrangements with commercial sponsors.
“We are still very much involved and will continue to support the event when it takes place next year.”
The free festival is estimated to attract 12,000 visitors who take part in and watch kite surfing, windsurfing, skateboarding and live music.
Miss Pendleton said: “I have a mixed sense of disappointment and excitement. With the year off we have the chance to push a lot of ideas that the committee had but we couldn’t pursue before.
“Having a year off has given us a chance to better look at them.”
An appeal has been started by the Lifestyles Association to try to save the festival and the committee will be looking at a number of options including working with potential sponsors.
Miss Pendleton said: “We have got some new supporters to come forward and we have one or two new sponsors who look to be coming on board.
“We are applying for art council funding and putting more emphasis on the art side of the festival, including beach art and street art.”
Although funding is a major issue there is also a need for volunteers to help steward the festival.
“It is a free event run by volunteers, if we want it to happen again we do need more volunteers,” said Miss Pendleton. “There are so many great elements to the festival that volunteering can be really fun.
“Extreme sports and culture festivals are not rife and free festivals are few and far between.
“It is one of the few opportunities people have to go up to speak to a pro-rider and to learn from pro-skaters.”
It will not just be adrenaline junkies who will miss the festival as it brings trade and tourism to Hunstanton.
Town clerk Lisa Powell said: “It did bring a lot of people into the town and it brought something a bit different. It will be missed.
“It would be wonderful if one could be run again next year.”
Mike Ruston, secretary for Hunstanton Chamber of Trade, said: “If they are reshaping it I don’t think it is a bad idea at all to give it a rest for a year and I’m sure we will welcome it back next year.
“The weather has been kind to us this year, we’ve had lots of people about and there is a good feeling in the town. I think there is a lot of hope that events like this will continue.”