One of my letters published in the Harrogate Advertiser back in July 2009 about why Harrogate needed a music festival. It eventually came the following September with Dragongate Festival finally getting its license. The fringe organised the following year by the Advertiser chief music reporter, Graham Chalmers, followed up from this.

Letters section, Harrogate Advertiser: Published in July 2009

AS a place to grow up in and live, Harrogate is certainly one of the best in Britain. However, to put it midily, there was no doubt that the recent events surrounding a new music festival, being given sixty objections against it by local councillor; Ian Galloway has raised new issues.

Harrogate has its attractive spots, including the Royal Hall and Betty’s tearoom. However the negative issues, that have been raised against the music festival, shows that Harrogate is unwilling to accept something alternative, which might appeal to audiences.

Last week’s article on the music festival was next to one on the tea room dance. In a nutshell, it was almost like the pleas from the young generation were being ignored in the music article, compared to the one of the elderly.

To put it into a general context as to why Harrogate needs the Dragongate festival, for a start it is clear the town needs to switch its appeal. A music festival in particular, would appeal to thousands of school children from across the area and district. There are eight secondary schools in Harrogate, and more in the surrounding areas. As a town, Harrogate in particular has a huge population of teenagers, who would be attracted to the festival. Indeed, growing up you need to have a good influence around you in your own town, and the festival would provide this.

Giving more choice is also extremely important. The town centre at night is not for everyone, and people will not always be tempted into the commercialism factor surrounding nightclubs and bars. Hence, there are some school kids who have not reached 18, and for those that are underage in bands, there is really only one place to play, to an audience your own age – Hyper Youth Club.

It is quite clear that local talent needs a chance. Indeed, at a recent gig at the No.19 bar in the town centre, the bar manager said ‘we have a great music scene’, which would be good to come at the forefront of a music festival. As well as acoustic, rock and indie bands, there is plenty of space for dance acts. The budding musicians in the dance and hardcore scene are not given the chance to play as much as they like in places in town.

The organisers of Dragongate also have proven experience. They managed the Thornborough Music festival, near Ripon for three years without any trouble or problems occurring at the event. They have now decided to bring their event to Harrogate, in the hope it would appeal to this supposedly upmarket, upcoming town.

However the way the festival has been perceived to be, is completely ludicrous. Galloway’s report that the festival would attract ‘undesirables’ and ‘criminals’ is complete fantasy. This is a ridiculous claim because, quite rightly the people that would come to the festival, would be there for the music. Galloway’s quotes spark a thought of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which helped to limit the number of outdoor music events and raves taking place, throughout the country.

By rejecting this festival, Harrogate will claim it to be a ‘sleeping giant’. With a music festival, Harrogate has enough people with a love for music, and to help produce a fantastic outdoor event, which would help bring people together. If Skipton and Limetree can do it, why can’t Harrogate?.

Dan Birch