The airshow was brilliant. Now let’s do even better
- Credit: Roman Czajkowski
Well done, Great Yarmouth Air Show organisers - you did Norfolk proud, says Nick Conrad.
In the run-up to the Great Yarmouth Air Show, many were quick to question the viability and suitability of the event. Critics had good reason to raise concerns and highlight potential sticking points. However, with what appears to have been a phenomenally-successful inaugural event, I think we should now be heaping praise on the organisers.
The praise rightfully poured in online, with numerous comments posted on Facebook praising the 'military-style organisation.' In an age where the consumer is empowered by their access to all influential social media platforms, any event organiser could be forgiven for constantly monitoring online chatter. Honest to a fault, if something goes wrong it doesn't take long for the 'ferocious feedback' to flow.
As the venomous posts vilify, a PR nightmare awaits. Forgive me for wondering whether the Air Show would emerge in glory - I dreaded the weather, the Acle Straight or security being its downfall. That said, I always supported the event and I'm cock-a-hoop that they've pulled it off!
Thousands crammed onto the prom and the golden sand to watch the planes whizzing and swooping overhead. The Red Arrows, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and many others entertaining the beaming faces below. It's no small feat arranging the infrastructure for such a show. Surprisingly the actual booking of the planes and air-acts is a very small part of the whole process. There is no doubt the ambition of the Great Yarmouth Business Improvement District is admirable, especially as in the current climate risk taking is often discouraged.
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The cynical media, myself included, are the real problem. Quick to criticise and slow to praise. That said the EDP and my brilliant BBC Radio Norfolk colleague Andrew Turner in Great Yarmouth have reflected the apparent resounding endorsement of the crowds, if not all businesses, for the spectacle.
I say, let's not stifle this initial success by taking a short-term view of this grand project. It will take two or three years to formulate an evidenced based verdict on the positive, or not, impact this has had on the town. Yarmouth is the most wonderful, hard-working and honest place. Those who deride it as being trashy and down market are too snobby to appreciate its charm. The Air Show does a lot to reach out to a new audience, in turn exposing more people to what charming 'Yarko' has to offer.
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The only audible grumble I've heard is from irritated caterers. A handful declaring that they won't return next year, hopefully leaving more trade for the established businesses who actually pay for the Air Show via the BID.
I do question whether the concessions' downfall was charging £10 for a portion of fish and chips and burgers at £9. If true, is that really going to work in a town where you can get those very same treats for half the price on any other weekend of the year? Maybe the established traders could be invited to set up temporary stalls to increase their chances of making money. Another idea: split the air show into two intensive bursts, one at 11am and maybe the other from 3pm. The window in the middle would give a perfect opportunity to encourage tourists, enticed by discounts and event coupons, to visit other attractions and the town.
I don't think the town has seen so many people on the beach since the 1970s. The promenade throbbing with happy families enjoying themselves. It's what Yarmouth is all about. Let's hope the event continues to soar like those beautiful planes.