The organiser of the Far Away Land Festival in Southport said he has lost £35,000, is having to cancel his wedding and sell his business.
The event took place on Saturday and Sunday with thousands of people enjoying performances from CBBC stars Andy and the Odd Socks, dinosaurs from Jurassic Live, inflatables, live high flying wrestling, Shlomo’s Beatbox Adventure; Roald Dahl Imagination Seekers; assault course; graffiti workshop, a graffiti wall; kids comedy show; huge immersive Lego City; and more. Yolanda’s Band Jam and Horrible Histories Live both pulled out of the event at the last minute.
Organiser Andy Scott said that he “tried to do something nice for the kids and families of Merseyside and I’m absolutely heartbroken at what’s happened”.
But he was left feeling so stressed that he spent much of Saturday “in the back of an ambulance having a panic attack”.
The festival was originally due to have been staged at Princes Park in Liverpool, but was moved to Southport a couple of weeks before it opened.
In an emotive post on the Far Away Land Festival Facebook page, Andy Scott wrote: “I don’t normally post messages like this, but for the people I’ve seen calling me various things and saying I made loads of money, I can assure you a big profit was not made.
“In fact I’ve lost £35,000, I’m having to sell my business and cancel my wedding.
“After it got cancelled at Princes Park in Liverpool (because of the objections to ‘drunken behaviour’ and ‘wrestling yobs’ in the park, not to mention that swan) I was left with the choice between cancelling it completely, letting down loads of kids that were given free tickets with Cash for Kids charity and through local schools. Or I could attempt to put something together in two weeks and try to make it work in Southport.
“I didn’t have any funding for this. I’m not some rich mogul. I’m just a guy from Liverpool that tried to do something nice for the kids and families of Merseyside and I’m absolutely heartbroken at what’s happened.
“In fact, I actually spent a lot of Saturday in the back of an ambulance having a panic attack because of what had happened.
“I know a lot of you are angry, and I know a lot of you want a refund and that’s down to Ticketquarter. But please do not for one second think I’ve made a profit out of this because I haven’t.
“I have lost more money than I’ve earned in the last three years.
“I’m actually more than happy to show people how much this event cost to put on, how many tickets were sold and any other income if you need more information.
“I tried to take everyone’s comments on board on Saturday and improve it as much as I could with better signage and timetables etc, and you were right it was a much better event on Sunday and it was so nice to get loads of lovely comments and messages from people who had a really fun, enjoyable day.
“I’m really, genuinely sorry.”
People rushed to support the organiser through the Far Away land Facebook page.
Sorcha O’Brien, who runs the Facebook group What’s On For Kids in Southport and Surrounding Areas wrote: “Andy you did a smashing job in a very short space of time!! You know my thoughts about certain things lat the last minute… They were all over the promo so in my opinion they should have attended and then sorted out whatever the dramas were after the event. As ultimately it’s them, not you, who let people down.
“I bumped into lots of friends – some who even came both days andthought it was so good!!!! I knew all about what ‘should’ have been there yet my daughter had the BEST time ever and she wanted to see horrible histories and Yolanda…
“After the event she wasn’t even fussed as she just kept singing the Andy and the Odd Socks Alien song for hours and was on a sugar high from divine donuts lol it was a kids festival and you know what? All the kids I know had an amazing time so in that sense WELL DONE.”
Katie Jenkins wrote: “It was a great first event, hopefully onwards and upwards next year!
“From a 3 year old and a 6 year old who had an amazing day, ignore the wingers and keep on going, we loved it and will return if you do it again!”
Jo Galbraith said: “Some people are very quick to moan online. Saturday was great, Sunday was even better! Ignore the keyboard warriors, they have nothing better to do , have a rest and think about all the big smiles you saw at the weekend at the event you created. That’s what it was all about.”
Sarah Le Masurier said: “My son and I went on Saturday and we both had an amazing time!
“Yes there were some issues and setbacks but it was still a brilliant, fun day out with loads to do and there was so much entertainment included for such a cheap entrance fee!
“My son had a smile on his face the whole day! You should feel very proud of putting on such a fab event!”