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SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 57: Having to postpone our biggest annual fundraiser…again

It’s with heavy hearts we’ve decided that postponing our biggest annual fundraiser, Home Farm Fest, is the most sensible decision with the current situation as it stands. This is the second year we’ve had to do it (we never dreamed we’d have to do it again after last year), but here we are a year later…

We’ve put together a statement with our reasons why we’ve chosen this option. Please have a read:

STATEMENT

Home Farm Fest 15 is postponed again – this time until 2022

When we had to bring the sad news that Home Farm Fest was postponed last year, we never imagined we would be having to do it again this year, but we, the School in a Bag team and Home Farm Fest Committee, have had to make the difficult decision to move it once more, this time to the 10th – 12th June 2022.

This has almost been a harder decision to make, due to the government’s announcement last week of dates being worked towards easing lockdown. Their ultimate goal to allow gatherings is 21st June, which is obviously after our second week of June date that we hold Home Farm Fest, and whilst there is an option of moving the date to later in the summer, there are many reasons why we feel this still isn’t the right solution for us. Here’s our thinking:

  1. We want to put on an event that is safe and does not put people’s health at risk! 

This is our absolute priority and the safety of our punters, performers and volunteers is paramount.  Whilst we all hope that vaccination program continues its rapid rollout and the ‘ R’ number remains low once the restrictions start to be lifted, there is no guarantee we will be COVID free after June 21st and we would hate to be held accountable for running an event that helped spread the virus and increased infection transmissions.

  1. We cannot afford to put on a festival that jeopardises the reputation of the festival or the charity

Naturally, if the above scenario were to happen, it could have lasting damaging consequences not only for the future of Home Farm Fest but also School in a Bag and that is a risk we are not prepared to gamble on.

  1. We cannot afford to plan and invest in a festival that we cannot guarantee will go ahead

Putting on Home Farm Fest is not only a huge commitment of time for our small team and countless volunteers but also a vast investment of money for our charity.  School in a Bag has taken a big hit in lost revenue from cancelled events courtesy of COVID and whilst we have managed to stabilise the charity through our new online platforms, we are not prepared to invest in an event that we cannot guarantee will bring us the expected financial return.

As a festival committee and charity board, we feel it is more important to keep the charity afloat and will therefore concentrate on the processes and platforms we have put in place to help us adjust and hopefully get through the pandemic.

  1. We do not want to put on a festival that compromises the spirit of Home Farm Fest.

Home Farm Fest is a relaxed, family flowing festival with a variety of stages and attractions that allow intimate social interaction and integration.  It’s what we, and those, who attend have grown to love and expect.  Putting on a compromised festival that could have restrictions to the flow, movement and management of people is not something we are prepared to work towards.

  1. We want to give performers, suppliers, traders and volunteers the heads up now

We feel it’s important that we make our decision now, rather than waiting. This will give our musicians and stage teams the opportunity to try and get other gigs, market traders to find other events and ticket holders to make decisions, too. (see later)

  1. Why not move Home Farm Fest to later in the year?

With the level of excitement about the 21st June (be assured, we’re just as excited!), there will be so many events, parties, gigs, gatherings, missed birthday celebrations, weddings etc organised meaning the market will be absolutely saturated. With the UK summer extending to mid-September at best, that doesn’t leave many weekends for everyone to do everything they’re planning. For us to make HFF viable, we need to sell 3,500 tickets and with most people juggling their weekends going to all their social events, we can’t afford to lose out on our regular ticket sales and have fewer people attend.

Home Farm Fest has always been such a huge part of School in a Bag. Last year really shook us when we couldn’t hold it. We love having everyone joining us at our charity HQ; the atmosphere and fun times the weekend brings with it. Whilst not having is for another year is so disappointing, there is a reality that is driving our decision and we feel that if we postpone it once more now, we will be able to come back with a great festival next year – and HFF15 will finally happen!

Events Home Farm Fest

Our plans for 2022

We made a commitment to our performers, sponsors, volunteers, stage teams etc that the postponed Home Farm Fest of 2020 would be replicated this year and therefore we want to honour this commitment in 2022. It is inevitable that over a two-year period some aspects will have changed, and we will adapt accordingly for next year.

So many of you were incredible at rolling over your HFF2020 ticket which at a time of real uncertainty, helped give the charity such peace of mind.  If you have a ticket that you purchased for HFF2020, this will continue to rollover to HFF2022. We would absolutely love your support in keeping your ticket and blocking out the 10th – 12th June 2022 in your diaries for HFF now!

Not only will this feel like a ‘free’ festival by the time it comes around as the money spent purchasing your ticket will be long gone, but also, you’ll have ended up getting them at a cheaper rate as there will be a natural increase in ticket prices for next year (not a huge amount as we don’t believe in hiking prices up dramatically, but there will be an increment).

If however you need to be refunded your HFF15 tickets, please email us and we will of course honour this. The refunding of tickets does have a window and that is until Friday 30th April. We feel this is an appropriate length of time to decide what you would like to do.

As per last year and keeping with the positives, from an agricultural point of view, our local farmers who cut the grass on the festival site unseasonably early will this year again be able to get a much fuller yield for their cattle – making them happy for a second year!

Have we contacted everyone?

Yes. Everyone who’s integral to running HFF, all ticket holders, performers, traders and volunteers have all been notified individually and this post through our social media platforms is to let the wider community know as well.

Has the ticket money already been spent?

No. The ticket money is held in our Eventbrite account (our ticket management platform) meaning that we can reimburse all the ticket holders if necessary. To be completely open and honest, rolling the tickets over gives us such a good and positive head start on ticket sales next year, and means current holders don’t have to worry about buying them.  And of course, not having to reimburse tickets will save us a vast amount of time!! We would never deny someone who wants their money back though, and the reason for only giving a specified time to do so is so that there’s complete segregation between tickets already sold, and us putting the tickets for next year’s festival on sale.

So, what’s the future?

The future is bright! We have some exciting new leads for School in a Bag in place and whilst we are still adjusting to the new platforms that we now use to promote ourselves, our support base is growing well beyond our local catchment area thanks to the online world.

To date, we’ve distributed over 121,000 SchoolBags in 47 countries, and this number continues to grow. One thing that has become absolutely clear from the partners around the world who we work with to implement our projects is this…. the need for SchoolBags now is greater than ever.

Home Farm Fest is such an important part of our overall operation and this is the reason why we have to guarantee it can go ahead and raise the sums of money that it does.  We are disappointed we won’t be seeing you at Home Farm once again this year, but are looking forward already to delivering HFF2022 where you can help us surpass the £500,000 raised since the inception of the festival.

Feedback

Of course, everyone loves good feedback, but if you have any negative feelings towards what we’re doing, or how we’re doing it, please let us know directly by emailing us: [email protected] and we will answer any questions or thoughts you have. Negativity on social media isn’t what anyone wants or needs. As we said, we’re a small team and Home Farm Fest is only a part of what we do and we are dealing with this on-going situation as best we can.

Lastly, we’d like to say an almighty thank you to EVERYONE involved in Home Farm Fest and despite it not having happened for over a year now, we get included in some lovely social media posts from people looking forward to its return. We feel very positive about 2022, we have exciting new plans we can’t wait to share, and after two unplanned fallow years, we will come back so ready to bring you HFF15!

Keep safe and we look forward to being in a field with you in June 2022…
The HFF and SIAB team: Luke and Zoë

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE HOME FARM FEST WEBSITE

Thank you for taking the time to read our statement. As you can see, not an easy decision, but an important one.

We look forward to hosting HFF again next June, but in the meantime need to focus on fundraising in other ways to help make up for the loss from the festival revenue.

Team School in a Bag & Home Farm Fest

School in a Bag is a charity born out of the Piers Simon Appeal, a charity set-up by Founder & CEO, Luke Simon, in memory of his older brother Piers, who lost his life in the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. To date, over 121,000 SchoolBags have been distributed to children in 46 countries around the world, giving them the necessary tools to be able to attend school and therefore have a lifeline out of poverty and hardship. Equally, if they have been affected by war or a natural disaster and had to flee their home, the SchoolBags provide the tools to be able to gain some stability and normality back in their lives by attending school. To see more of the work we do, please take a look at our website:

VISIT THE SCHOOL IN A BAG WEBSITE HERE!