Plans for festival to celebrate AldershotBy Amy Taylor
March 19, 2013
A NEW summer festival merging existing army events is being prepared, with the aim of a week-long show in July.
The Aldershot Military Festival will pick up where the old summer army show left off last year, with a programme of events still to be confirmed from July 1 to 6.
While still in its infancy, the hope is that the festival could in the future become simply the ‘Aldershot Festival’, despite its military roots, and become a celebration of the town itself.
Organiser Simon Welsh said: “It’s really about the town. The plan is to reel it out as an annual event.”
The plans all hinge around funding, as the festival will be a not-for-profit event, so Mr Welsh said he hoped local companies would be able to donate to the cause.
A bid for funding has been submitted to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to help prepare the festival, as part of the MoD’s support for events marking Armed Forces Day on June 29.
Any event running within two weeks either side of that date is eligible for a grant, and as a result, this year’s festival would be Rushmoor Borough Council’s way of marking Armed Forces Day.
Ideas put forward for the programme would draw on the facilities now available in Aldershot, as well as encouraging involvement from schools and businesses, such as a school art competition, a film festival in co-operation with Westgate Cineworld, heritage tours of military sites, and world food stalls celebrating the mix of cultures and nationalities within Aldershot Garrison.
Mr Welsh said he hoped to encourage local donors to get involved.
Grainger PLC, the developers behind the Aldershot Urban Extension, and TAG Farnborough Airport have already pledged money for the festival, but more sponsorship is required to build the festival to the scale desired.
The festival replaces the former army show, which in its heyday attracted up to 60,000 visitors over two days. In its modern format it had been held since 2002, but its roots date back to 1894.
The show suffered financial difficulties and eventually was held as part of the Southern Army Careers Exhibition in June, but with recruitment teams disbanding, and outsourcing company Capita taking over the workload, Mr Welsh said there was a gap left for a new event.
“There is public demand, I feel, for us to have a community engagement event, as we are historically home to the British Army,” he said.
More information and application forms for exhibitors will be available on the festival – www.armyshow.co.uk – in due course. Any companies interested in sponsoring the show can contact Mr Welsh on 01252 348207 or via email@example.com.