Wednesfield Canal Festival – 4300 Visitors Over The Two Days!

Wednesfield Canal Festival took place on the 12 & 13 August 2017

As you the community are aware we have come together once again to deliver a brilliant community event – The Wednesfield Canal Festival. This was held on the 12 & 13 August 2017.

This is the fourth year Wednesfield Canal Festival has been held, and each year it has grown bigger and got better than the year before!

When I had first had the idea of the Wednesfield Canal Festival in 2013, it was with the plan already hatched that we needed a Local Nature Reserve in Wednesfield.

The idea was to build public interest and support for a Local Nature Reserve based around the canal in Wednesfield- that I had with colleagues been pressing and promoting with Wolverhampton City Council since 2007.

That strategy which we have employed has been a winner, and each year the Wyrley & Essington Canal in Wednesfield, has gained more attention and become more of a focal point in the community than it had been the year before!

Last year in 2016 two things happened that were very influential, that has taken the Canal Festival onwards and upwards. The first was meeting Mark Welsby the General Manager of Parrs Wood and Bentley Bridge Leisure Park.

Mark Welsby quickly understood what the Wyrley and Essington canal was about, and he was keen that their business (Bentley Bridge Leisure Park) should be supporting the benefits a canal can bring to trading. Mark was encouraging and supportive and I introduced him then to then ‘Hands on Wednesfield’ charity group, and with Creative Black Country and together in partnership we all produced the 2016 event.

It was a itself a very successful arrangement. Our partnership had made a big difference!
There were more people attending the 2016 event, than in 2015 and the visitors liked the live music that Creative Black Country and HOW had introduced.

It was this 2016 partnership working and the improvements that the partnership had made, that led to the plans forming for the 2017 Wednesfield Canal Festival taking place.

Looking back – What a great decision that was!

Moving On to 2017

The Partnership which now included Hands on Wednesfield plus Creative Black Country with Bentley Bridge Leisure Park, have between them found the resources to fund more live music and singers. This created a lively and energetic feel to the whole event. Music and Singing was scheduled to perform over a full two day period, building on the live music success in 2016.

The partnership crafted together a broader, wider variety of events. They did this by harnessing the local community. Craft stalls, children’s face painting , Bouncy Castles, Fun Fair rides.

With all this taking place we still found room and we still made the canal the focus by encouraging four canal Narrowboats to trade in a ‘Pop Up Market’, we welcomed also support boats, and there were other boats that turned up and moored for the week end, because they had been drawn to the event by the publicity.
All this once again created the focus on the canal- and all it provides us with.

Great Nature, a green environment, quiet walks, bike rides, quick links to shopping and schools ,and local Hospitals. It also provides water based transport, tourist links, and more visitors!

Our 2017 Wednesfield Canal Festival also delivered ‘canal crafts’ to young people. Free trips on a Narrow Boat for local people, Provided fun stalls for local community based business.

On top of all that, the 2017 event created better trading for the Bentley Bridge Leisure Park. Our canal festival helped to enhance the business that is located there. All together the band of volunteers created an event that makes the world of difference to our Greater Wednesfield Community.

Results So what are the results of all this hard work and partnership. Was the 2017 Wednesfield Canal Festival a success? In fact what were the outcomes- I asked Bentley Bridge Leisure Park what they felt had been achieved? This is what they have told us.

• Did the festival make a material difference?
Yes, there was an uplift in sales at the centre from customers attending the canal festival.
• Can you give an estimate at the numbers that attended
Footfall on the centre was up 9.38% vs the same week in 2016, we already forecasted a 3% increase vs last year due to the current trend so can attribute approximately 4,300 visited the site for the canal festival with Saturday being the busier day.

I think that the electronic counters that have been employed in helping to assist this result makes the fact that Wednesfield Canal Festival 2017 a huge success. I am sure we will all be doing it again next year!

There is more information yet to be extracted from the event, but I thought you the readers would like to see the initial statistics that are now being extracted. I want to thank Bentley Bridge Leisure Park, Hands on Wednesfield, Creative Black Country, Wolverhampton City Council, Canal and River Trust, with Jim Duncan, for all the hard work they all put in as Groups and individuals to make this event the success it is…role on next year!

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more