HEARTBROKEN organisers of the Saddleworth literary festival have drawn the curtain on the high profile community event for the last time.
They made the shock decision after attendances slumped at the two day event staged at Saddleworth School at the weekend.
The festival, in its third year, aimed to support Dr Kershaws, where their patron, well known character actor John Henshaw, is also a patron.
But Allan Graham poet/writer and creator of the festival, said: “This weekend we have probably had 20-30 paying guests and probably collected £5 for the hospice.
“Unfortunately, the people of Saddleworth and Oldham don’t want a community literary festival. It is therefore, with a very sad heart, festival organisers have decided to pull the plug. There will be no more Saddleworth Literary Festivals.
“ We put 1000 leaflets out in the villages around Saddleworth, plus placards and banners on a shoestring budget.
“Saddleworth School very kindly allowed us to use the main hall and the dining area, plus the sound and lighting equipment.
“Maybe if we advertise ‘Get drunk on literature – free bar all weekend plus Sky Sports’ we will pack the main hall.
“I know when I am flogging a dead horse and I can’t see the point in continuing to flog it. I will let it rest in peace.
“I see the disappointment on the faces of the performing guests and I feel their disappointment and embarrassment.”
He added: “If only people only knew the amount of time and energy that goes into bringing these fantastic guests to the festival.
“ It’s all here, right on their doorstep, but it isn’t wanted.”
Among the line up, Funky Fitness gave a riveting performance with their emotional drama/musical on homelessness.
Mr Graham explained: “ We attract wonderful guests, who are not only entertaining but are lovely warm people who are extremely approachable and give their precious time free of charge, because they care about festivals and communities.”
Headliners included Ozlem Warren, a Turkish master chef, Maddi Potter, stage/musical singer, Ian Whiteley – rock singer/poet, Christine Green – London Literary Agent, author Jacqueline Ward, Dr. Chet Trivedy – founder of TULSI, tiger conservation, Morganico an extraordinary artist, Terence P Trout, a classical rock guitar.
Cllr Pam Byrne, one of the festival organising committee, said: “The public support was abysmal.
The Children’s’ creative writing competition was only supported by the families of the winners and all the efforts of Allen – himself a published author- was a disappointment.
“The small committee who put on the festival are disappointed and wonder after all the publicity where they went wrong.
“What have the people of Saddleworth missed? They can turn out in thousands for the Grenadier Guards one day and only a handful for a Literary Festival the next…
“The organisers wonder if it is worth all the effort and then have to apologise to those wonderful authors and personalities who have supported the festival.”
John Henshaw added: “Its terribly disappointing, particularly as Saddleworth is such a literary area. Graham has put everything into the event backed by the committee.”
Adult tickets for the festival were just £5 and covered two days entry. Children and students were free.