American-style dance marathon on Petworth's Market Square raises concerns

Plans to close Petworth's Market Square for a six hour '˜mass participation' American style dance marathon have raised concerns that the young festival's organisers are being over ambitious.

Monday, 20th March 2017, 2:03 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:02 am
Crowds gather when the square closed for the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations

PetFringe organiser Peter Drummond presented plans for the third annual festival to members of Petworth Town Council.

Over 11 days from June 29-July 9 a series of events are planned including a dance marathon on Friday June 30 closing the square from 4pm to midnight.

Mr Drummond said there was a need for at least one more ‘mass participation, simple fun, community targeted event’ at this year’s PetFringe.

But Liz Singleton told fellow town councillors: “I would be concerned about using the whole of the square. Personally speaking I think its quite an ambitious project considering the attendance of the events last year.”

Last year organisers wanted to close the square for a musical event aimed at 1,000 ticket holders.

But Petworth town councillors said they could not support it and suggested the use of the car park or Rosemary’s Gardens.

Eventually it was held at the Hampers Green Community Centre.

“The Hampers Green event was attended, but it wasn’t a sell out,” said Liz, “I think the Leconfield Hall would be better for the dance marathon, it would be better to be more ‘crammed’.

“This is a very ambitious project so early in PetFringe’s history, considering the attendances last year.”

But fellow town councillor Carrie Smith said: “I think the square is an excellent idea and this is a great thing for the younger people in the town.”

Maggie South said she was ‘on the fence’ adding “It’s a brilliant idea but I am not certain the square is the right place.”

Mr Drummond said the festival hoped to sell 370 tickets and would be sending out 2000 fliers advertising the event.

He said PetFringe was growing and had sold three times as many tickets last year as 2015. “This is our commitment to Petworth to make it bigger and more successful. This is an event that should be held in the square.”

He said young people were being targeted for the dance marathon and he was confident on numbers: “You are worried about attendances but I am not,” he said.

Chairman Chris Kemp said: “The musical event in the square fell on its face last year but turned out to be exceedingly successful at Hampers Green.” He asked: “Is this too big to early?”

Sending out 2000 fliers was no guarantee people would attend, he added.

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