A BANK Holiday weekend event, which shocked the organisers by its overwhelming success when it was held for the first time last year, is expected to attract in excess of 10,000 people at the end of August.
The ‘Festival of Jurby’ – a free event focusing on vintage motorcycles and vehicles, together with a host of attractions for all the family – took the organisers by surprise when more than 8,000 people flocked to Jurby Airfield in 2009, making it the biggest single spectator attraction of the year.
This year the organisers are predicting in excess of 10,000 or more people attending the festival and have completely revamped the event to cope with the huge numbers.
‘We were completely overwhelmed by the number of people last year,’ said Tony East, Secretary of the Isle of Man Vintage Motorcycle Club, organisers of the event. ‘We thought we might attract a couple of thousand visitors if we were lucky, but we totally under-estimated how popular the event would be.’
The events committee of the VMCC Isle of Man came up with the idea of holding a gathering similar to the well established VMCC ‘Festival of 1000 Bikes’ held annually at Mallory Park.
Tony East admitted he thought it would be a success but he had no idea how successful.
‘We were well organised and we had lots of exhibitors and an enthusiastic group of people at VMCC who worked hard and who believed in the festival, but the number of people who arrived was just amazing,’ he said.
‘We had a man with a count-clicker at the gate but when we got to 8,000 we just decided to stop counting. I reckon we must have been close to 9,000.’
Tony East is now confident that this year, weather permitting, the festival will attract more than 10,000 visitors. ‘Last year, although we didn’t realise it when we chose the date, there was another major motorcycle display in Castletown Square which was also attracted many hundreds of people. This year they are coming up to Jurby to be with us, so I think 10,000 is definitely on the cards.’
It means that the organisation of this year’s event has had to be totally revamped to cope with the potential of 10,000 or more people arriving at Jurby on August 29th. This includes a new traffic management system which will be supervised by G4S, in co-operation with an enhanced police presence to oversee matters.
There was just one caterer at last year’s festival, who did ‘amazing business’, but clearly it was not enough. So this year the Festival of Jurby will have a Food Court with nine different food outlets to cope with the numbers.
The focus of attention throughout the day is vintage motorcycles and vintage transport. Classic bikes will be featured in a series of 20- minute parade laps around the Jurby airport race circuit but it’s emphasised that this is not racing, simply a parade where spectators can see some of the famous bikes from motorcycling history in action.
Geoff Corkish MBE MHK, Political Member for Isle of Man Tourism, said: ‘Promoting the Manx Grand Prix Races as a festival is one of our important aims. The Festival of Jurby is a great addition to the programme of exciting events and I send best wishes to the VMCC in building on last year’s success.’
There were an estimated 5,000 bikes on display last year – and even more will be on display this year. This year will include parades by 40 TT and MGP winners and podium finishers, a display of Italian classic bikes including MV, Gilera and Benelli, 80 BSA Gold Stars, covered exhibitions, car and bike clubs, vintage farming machinery displays, Jurby Transport Museum, hundreds of classic and vintage racing motorcycles and an extensive range of children’s entertainment.
One of the ‘crown jewels’ of the festival will be a display of the official – and extremely valuable – Manx Grand Prix trophies, under the watchful supervision of G4S security staff. Another big attraction will be the famous Freddie Dixon banking sidecar, included with a display from the Milntown collection of bikes.
Star guests include Nick Jefferies riding his TT winning RC30 Honda, Sammy Miller on the exotic Bicilindrica Moto Guzzi, John Kidson riding the Arthur Wheeler Moto Guzzi and Ivan and Graham Rhodes riding the supercharged Velocettes including the unique and priceless ‘Wyfling Clara’ 350. Malcolm Wheeler, editor of ‘Classic Racer’, will be riding a Ducati he raced in the TT some years ago.
It’s also hoped to have a display of vintage tractors and perhaps a Farmers’ Market, although neither have been fully confirmed as yet.
‘It’s a family day out, which is why we feel it was such a success last year,’ added Tony East. ‘The Festival has something for all ages and all members of the family. It’s basically a transport extravaganza with entertainment for the family.’
The Festival of Jurby takes place on Sunday August 29th at Jurby Airfield, starting at 10.30am. Parking and admission is free. For full details of the Festival of Jurby and other exciting MGP events please visit the newly launched www.mgpfestival.com