The National Traction Engine Trust

CONFIRMED DATE CHANGE FOR GREAT DORSET STEAM FAIR 2016
THURSDAY 25TH AUGUST TO MONDAY 29TH AUGUST 2016 INCLUSIVE


STATEMENT BY MARTIN OLIVER, MANAGING DIRECTOR GDSF

Following a review of this year’s show, it has become absolutely clear that the impact of the 2015 show clashing with the start of the new school year has been more severe than we had previously foreseen with regard to both public attendance and exhibitor / trader availability.

With the vast majority of schools across the UK going back immediately after Bank Holiday Monday, we were aware throughout the year that the start of the new school year would affect us in 2015. However, we did not envisage the extent to which it did and this has left us with legitimate and serious concerns regarding the viability of continuing to hold the GDSF on the Wednesday to Sunday following the Bank Holiday Monday each year, dates which we have traditionally used for over 30 years.

The reduced attendance this year is, of course, a major concern and comes on top of 2 very wet shows in 2012 and 2014 in which our financial reserves were weakened. The return to school after the summer holidays this year has proved to be pivotal for the GDSF and our research into school term dates across the country over the next few years indicates that we are highly likely to clash on a regular basis with the schools going back. Quite simply, Autumn term is starting earlier than ever before with the added difficulty of parents being unable to take their children out of school without the risk of being fined.

As well as the issue of school term time, the GDSF Directors have been concerned in recent years that the GDSF regularly clashes with other large events taking place in the area on the same dates, these being the Bournemouth International Air Show, the Dorchester Show and from 2015, the Beaulieu International Auto Jumble. Both the Bournemouth Air Show and Dorchester Show take place within a 20 mile radius of the GDSF showground and the Beaulieu Auto Jumble is only 38 miles away. There is no doubt that we lose exhibitors and visitors to all these events due to the obvious competition that they provide when our dates overlap.

With all the above in mind, particularly the ongoing clash with school term time, the GDSF Board of Directors following their 2015 review are of the firm opinion that in order to safeguard the GDSF’s future financial sustainability, it is imperative that we move our dates back by a week to coincide with the August bank holiday weekend.

Therefore, I confirm that our dates for 2016 will change from those currently listed of Wed 31st August - Sun 4th Sept to Thursday 25th Aug – Monday 29th Aug 2016. To clarify, this means that the show in 2016 will be held from the Thursday before the August Bank Holiday, up to, and including the August Bank Holiday Monday, still retaining our 5 day status. The added benefit of coinciding with the August Bank Holiday is that there are many thousands of tourists in the Dorset area during that weekend and we can potentially tap into that huge visitor market, something that we have never been able to do before.

Many of you will recall that we have previously resisted any change to the dates of the show. However, the 2015 show has been a defining year and, without doubt, has shown that we would be foolish and unwise not to act now to resolve the difficulties in clashing with the start of the new school year and the ongoing competition from other regional events. We believe that if we do not address the problem now, then we run a high risk of the Great Dorset Steam Fair becoming commercially unsustainable.

We do recognise that some people may have already booked time off work or booked accommodation for the “old dates” of 31st August to 4th September and we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this has caused. However, I am sure you will appreciate that it has taken time since the 2015 show for the Board of Directors to consider all the necessary implications of a date change and that this is the best and only option for us to take.

We are currently writing to all exhibitors, traders and contractors to inform them of the change of dates for 2016.

I hope you will agree that this decision is really the only viable solution to ensure the Great Dorset Steam Fair has future stability and can be enjoyed for many more years to come by everyone who wishes to attend. May I take this opportunity of thanking you all for your past support and I very much hope that we will see you at the show next year.

Finally, we are aware that at the 2015 show the new layout for public car parking and camping meant that the flow of pedestrians around and through our two main showfields was not universally welcomed by exhibitors and traders. In this regard, we will be returning to the previous format whereby a car park will be present at each end of the GDSF site
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25 Nov 2015