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28 October 2014
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A tent is set alight by teenagers
A tent is set alight by teenagers

What Went Wrong? Ponce in the Park

By Ryan O'Riordan
This weekend (August 11-13) saw the annual free music festival ‘Ponce in the Park.’ Three days of live music from over 35 bands across two stages, food and camping may seem like an ideal weekend for most. So why was it such a let down?

Firstly, the weather is to blame. Infrequent showers throughout the weekend including downpour Saturday night hardly made ideal camping conditions, with a few wet tents the next morning. Subsequently, this year’s turnout suffered with noticeably fewer than Ponce 2005, which took place in late-July rather than mid-August.

One of the bands on the main stage
One of the bands on the main stage

When it wasn’t wet, it was dull with sunshine occurring intermittently though not nearly enough, by Sunday many festival goers donned winter gear for the first time in months.

Another problem may have been the decision to split the bands between two stages for the first time – the line-up was criticised by online users of DuckworthSquare.com for being too similar to last year, blaming the organisers for not offering any variety.

An attendee known as Murta, 21, says “Last year was a bit better. They would have benefited from just the one stage and the weather drove some people away.”

A road accident next to the field
A road accident next to the field

Murta had an incident on the Friday, he recalls on the Duckworth Square forum: “I've no idea who that lad was who punched me, but it was totally uncalled for. I was trying to appease a situation and got a smack in the chops for my trouble. [] I swear its attracting more and more trouble makers every year, which is a big shame.”

Rebels

The main rules ‘No Fires, No Litter’ were also the two rules deviated against most by the attendees; Sunday saw even fewer tents than the day before and considerably more litter, hastily being cleared up by staff.

Scorched grass also gave a good indication that fires did indeed occur, while we witnessed some teenagers setting fire to a tent still containing the possessions of whomever it belonged to, including a CD player. A bucket of water was brought to the flames and security arrived to rebuke those involved.

Supply & Demand

Sunday’s second stage bands were delayed from problems with the generator supplying it with power, and by night-time a huddle of people (with hoods up as the rain dripped down) surrounded the stage for the performance of Charlottefield – though they were not in as full force as at previous years.

"No one was really excited about anything."
Rebecca Belmore

Rebecca Belmore, 18, said about the event "I thought that the weather was a bit of a let down and added to the quite monotonous atmosphere - no one was really excited about anything - and I wasn't too impressed with the sound system. After watching some high-quality bands, I thought the sound was poor.”

Some of the more popular bands on the line-up didn’t turn up, while more unheard of names didn’t contribute to the enthusiasm for the event.

Positives

Though there were less people, there were more tents this year as Ponce became more about the staying over than the music. The success of the drum ‘n’ bass tent in the evenings proves that the majority are there to have a good time than see the bands themselves.

Some attendees at Ponce
Some attendees at Ponce

Of course, all the problems have probably only contributed to the legend of Ponce – making it a good weekend in the eyes of the attendees. It still is the main free music festival in Derby, even if this time things didn’t go as well as they could have.

It remains to be seen if organisers, twenty-two year-old Jodie Craven and twenty-one year-old Laura Fletcher will attempt another Ponce in the Park next year, but there will be those hoping that they will.

Rain or shine.

last updated: 31/07/08
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