There will be no Purley Festival staged on Rotary Fields this year.
An announcement on the organisers’ website was posted just before Christmas by the festival’s director, Fiona Lipscombe. The message attempted to compare the event to Glastonbury or Reading when it said, “Like all of the best festivals we are having a break this year from putting on the main weekend of the Festival. We have loads of work to do in the background that we need to do to blast into the next five years with all cylinders blazing.”
The 2015 Purley Festival was staged in late June and the first week of July, with the final weekend on the patch of parkland alongside the Brighton Road where the star turn was Shakatak (well, quite…). It was the first time since the Purley Festival was founded in 2011 that the organisers paid for its headline music acts.
“Festival goers were wowed,” the organisers said, “by the jazz-funk of 80s chart sensations Shakatak; and dazzled,” they claimed, “by a world-class performance from local soul superstar, Omar.”
The organisers have also claimed, variously, that in 2015 the Purley Festival final weekend was attended by 8,000 and by 10,000 people.
In a press release issued last summer, the organisers stated, “Purley Festival 2015 has been hailed a great success by the festival organisers after a wonderful week.”
Lipscombe, who also runs the Dale Road music club, added that there will be smaller events staged during the course of 2016.
The Purley event was first staged as a response to the end of the council-run Croydon Mela in Lloyd Park, and the demise of a small music festival staged by the local pub, the Jolly Farmers.
The venue chosen by the organisers, Rotary Field public park, with its steep slope up from the Brighton Road, offers an excellent amphitheatre- style setting for acts on the main stage, but for the rag-bag of village fete stalls arrayed around the park, it has tended to present other challenges.
Organised by volunteers, it was not long ago that Lipscombe was speaking publicly about extending the overall Purley Festival to three weeks.
Immediately after the 2015 Festival last July, Lipscombe stated: “We had lots of new people on our team this year with amazing ideas and incredible energy, which made the Festival even more special and exciting. Five years ago I could never have imagined that Purley Festival would become such a big and great event and it really is getting better every year.”
But there won’t be any locals being “wowed” or “dazzled” in 2016.
Purley Festival organisers may be coming to terms with the recent move to the west country of its musical director and organiser of the weekend events, Stephanie Darkes.
Darkes, who describes herself as a “freelance social media superstar and content creator”, had previously done PR for the Black Sheep bar (now closed), and had columns published in the Croydon Sadvertiser. She says she is now “seeking work in Exeter”.
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