Basking under clear-blue skies and glorious sunshine the three day event – which is in its first year – delivered a packed out programmes of events. Highlights of the weekend included the sheep dog trials – which received twice as many entries as had been previously expected; the sheep shearing demonstrations – which had kids and adults alike fixated on the spectacle and the 41st Foot Reinactment Society who delighted festival-goers with a battle in the middle of the town, the storming of the town castle and even the arrest and flogging of a town drunk in the market square!
Aside from attracting visitors from across Wales, visitor surveys and research undertaken at the event revealed that people had travelled from as far as Chester, Sheffield, Surrey, London and even as far afield as Australia!
With funding and officer support from Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority’s Collabor8 project (which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through INTERREG IVB programme) the event marks a new beginning for the town of Llandovery – celebrating the area’s rich heritage with the aim of putting Llandovery on the map for its special qualities. The festival also received funding of £10,210 through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007/13, which is funded by Welsh Assembly Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and was sponsored by Barclays Bank and Lloyds TSB.
Organiser of the festival and Chairman of the Llandovery and District Chamber of Commerce, Fiona Walker said: “We are delighted with the first year of the festival and so pleased to have the support and patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales. It was a tremendous festival with lots of people attending various events held throughout the weekend. We tried to stretch our ideas across the generations and as a result there were lots of different things to do at different times of the day – which meant that everyone could enjoy themselves but always maintaining the link to Llandovery’s stories, history and heritage. We are already putting our ideas down for next year’s festival!”
Nick Stewart, Sustainable Tourism Officer for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority said: “We undertook research over the weekend interviewing local town centre businesses, festival exhibitors and visitors alike for their opinions and the responses have been extremely positive. Just over three quarters of visitors surveyed rated their visit to Llandovery Sheep Festival as better than expected. Some festival exhibitors told us that they had done so much more trade than they expected, that they’d run out of stock!
“Just over 90% of the town centre businesses we spoke to said their turnover had increased from the additional visitors to the town over the weekend and over 95% of the exhibitors and stall holders said that their presence at the festival had been worthwhile. These are just the kinds of statistics we want to hear so we know that tourism is having a positive impact on the local economy of the area. It was great to see so many people smiling and hear comments from people such as, ‘this is just what Llandovery needs’ and ‘the town feels alive again’. We will continue to work with the community of Llandovery on their journey of sustainable tourism development.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
The COLLABOR8 Project is 50% funded by the ERDF Interreg IVB North West Europe Programme. This partnership project involves nine different partners from Ireland, Wales, England, Netherlands and Belgium. It aims to actively involve clusters of small businesses in developing quality, sustainability and services that promote local ‘sense of place’. In this way each tourism cluster will be able to capitalise on the uniqueness of their regions to compete better in the EU and global markets.
The partners involved in the COLLABOR8 project are: South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd. (IE) -(Lead Partner); DLG Government Service for Land and Water Management: Office of the National Project New Dutch Waterline Department (NL); Stichting Studio VMK (NL); Flemish Land Agency (BE); Tourism East Flanders (BE), Westcountry Rivers Trust (UK); South Downs Joint Committee (UK); Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority (UK); and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council (UK).