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Community pulls together for Big Wheel Blues Festival in Laxey 28 April 2010

A HUGE community effort is being co-ordinated to ensure the smooth running of the Big Wheel Blues Festival in Laxey over the bank holiday weekend on 1st and 2nd May.

International stars are to perform, along with fringe concerts hosted in the village’s pubs on Friday and Saturday nights (30th April and 1st May). See for details.

Eastern NPT Commander Inspector Helen Mason explained:

‘PC Andy Reed started planning the event with key partners back in November and our aim is to ensure the hundreds of people who attend the festival and the fringe events have an enjoyable time.
‘Last year the weekend was trouble free with only two arrests made of people who were in breach of bail conditions – totally unconnected with the blues festival.
‘We want to ensure that the many people who go to Laxey have a happy, enjoyable safe time. Police will also be there to ensure that there is minimal disturbance to the village residents, who are generally very tolerant of the music festival. Everyone seems to have a good time and that includes the Police Officers who work at the event. It is a great opportunity to mix with the community and enjoy the ambience.’

Steve Arvey Community partners for the event include the Big Wheel Blues Festival organising committee, Laxey Village Commissioners and several Laxey licensees and traders including Laxey Co-op and Laxey Total Garage. Additionally the Red Cross, which is the beneficiary of proceeds from the official festival concerts, also provide medical attendance free of charge at fringe events.

The Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service has assisted by advising licensees on safe maximum numbers for their premises. They will also be supporting the police during the festival.

Bus Vannin has increased capacity on trams and buses to assist people getting to and from the festival. An extra bus will depart Laxey for Douglas at 11.15pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, while the last departure to Ramsey will be the scheduled 11.16pm service. Additional trams will be running between Douglas and Laxey on Saturday (May 1). Departures from Derby Castle at 0940, 1010, 1040, 1140, 1240, 1340, 1410, 1440, 1510, 1540, 1610, 1640 and 1710.The last trams back from Laxey to Derby Castle will be 1725 and 1755.

Additionally, ENPT are grateful for the support of Forestry Division staff (DEFA) who will ensure no illegal camping takes place, following the successful practice of recent years. Department of Education and Children detached youth workers will also be assisting the police.

PC Andy Reed commented: ‘We are doing our best to minimise the possibilities for illegal activity against the aim of ensuring festival goers have an enjoyable experience. We will be taking a robust stance against illegal substances, supported by the police drugs dogs team. We should remind people that our legislation has recently changed and the previously legal substance mephedrone, also known as ‘plant food’, became a class B controlled drug as of April 16th.

Ana Popovic‘The event itself is very much a family day between midday and 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, and we estimate up to 2,000 people came last year overall. We expect to see equal numbers this weekend if the weather is fine, and we want everyone to have a good time.’

Final word on the Big Wheel Blues Festival went to organising committee member Pete Christian.

He said:

‘This is the 12th consecutive annual festival and we are grateful to everyone who assists us to make it happen, particularly our main sponsors Peter Norris Music and Cains.
‘With such an enormous effort from so many people and organisations, we are hoping the volcanic ash isn’t going to cast a cloud over it! We have performers Steve Arvey due to fly from the US and Ana Popovic from the Netherlands. They and three other acts are all booked to fly in to the Island from the UK so we are on tenterhooks like many thousands of other people whose plans have been jeopardised by the volcano in Iceland. However there is also a lot of local blues talent to be showcased during the daytime, plus family entertainment in the Glen Gardens, so we definitely have a great Festival to look forward to.’

More information on the festival website:

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