WHAT a weekend Waterford. There is a lot to take in from this one. A lot of stock taking and taking stock. But, without doubt, the Déise has become the national August Bank Holiday weekend mecca of party.
Did the Déise see it getting to this level 27 years ago when Spraoi had its inception? As the organisers back then, who have loyally stood with this fantastic phenomenon ever since, will say they didn’t see Spraoi lasting beyond one year, never mind 27. It was why the name penned was Spraoi – “Spraoi ’93”, a nice bit of rhyme that meant fun, for a once-off event. But the Spraoi fun took hold in the city, and the rest is history.
Perhaps Spraoi is at a crossroads again now. Going toe to toe with the mega party people behind All Together Now is a higher level they never saw themselves having to contend with on their home turf, on their weekend.
As Spraoi director T.V. Honan fairly points out, 3,000 people missing from the city in the 25-45 age group can’t be ignored.
But the success of ATN is not necessarily a bad news story for either festival.
All Together Now is the perfect fit for the stunning and majestic Curraghmore estate, despite the tales of traffic woes. Better organisation next year will see that managed, hopefully sufficiently, to take into account the narrow roads and lanes into the venue.
Once inside, revellers literally parked their bad moods and got into the spirit of the festival, the brainchild of the same people who brought us Electric Picnic, and raised Ireland’s festival game to one respected by counterparts such as Glastonbury across the water.
It is a magnificent coup for Waterford, and one entirely deserved. Tribute must be paid to Lord Waterford and his family for opening the gates of this amazing estate – and their home – to 22,000 plus people.
They chose wisely in teaming up with POD festival and concert promoters – and the visionary that was the late John Reynolds, who died last October.
In the space of two years, Waterford has affectively been ‘found’ on a whole new level. Tourists have increasing reasons to spend a weekend or more. And the type of tourist to enjoy ATN and Spraoi, is also the type to enjoy Waterford Greenway, our food festivals, the Comeraghs Wild, Daytripper, Winterval and everything else being encouraged, developed and promoted.
Creative thinking by all these talented people will need to go into the future of ATN and Spraoi, and how Waterford can continue to benefit from both incredible festivals and such positive exposure.
But in the meantime, all concerned should take a mighty bow; we’ll stand to applaud.