Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Drumming up trade

Bannatyne 2
Originally uploaded by The original SimonB

So, how do you get people to come and visit your town on a sunny bank holiday? We had an event every day over the weekend and only one of them was as a result of having a Dragon available.

Saturday was the annual Custom/American car run. There have been four or five of these now to my knowledge. Unlike the historic vehicle run in May (organised by the Ipswich Transport Museum and running for 30 years now) this is linked in with a commercial event - namely the NASC gathering at the Suffolk Showground/Trinity Park. But just as in May we get several hundred cars of varying interest passing the end of the road and gathering on the sea front. I enjoy the spectacle and had a nice walk along the entire length of the prom and back in the sunshice taking pictures and generally dreaming of a new car. And so do hundreds of others - the prom was heaving and many of the cars I would have liked to photograph were so surrounded by onlookers that I gave up.

Sunday was Art On The Prom - another comparatively recent happening but at the very least in its fourth or fifth year. I enjoyed that spectacle as well, walking half the prom and back gawping at the pictures, sculpture etc on display. MrsB even bought a painting this year (OK, a cheap one from a 9-year old artist, but it was still a sale). Again, the prom was thronged with bodies and some of the stalls were three or four deep in bodies. Again the sun shone, although it was a bit windy (leading to at least one girl experiencing a Marilyn Monroe moment as I passed - black lace if you must know).

Then Monday we had tv's Duncan Bannatyne and his Edwardian Extravaganza. This was part of a show he is filming for Virgin TV trying to inject life into flagging towns or something (I don't know the full details as yet - it is due to be shown next year). Working on the assumption that Felixstowe needs something extra to bring people in he treated us to a Land Train (well, it made the third walk along the prom in a row a bit easier!), a bathing beauty contest (co-judged with Zoe Salmon from Blue Peter - we missed that but did see her heading back to the hotel), a tug of war contest and a skiffle band (very Edwardian!) among other amusements. Not very Dragonish. For the third day we had lovely weather and people flocked to the sea.

But did we really need him? The two established events had just as many people out and about (if not more) and the beach hasn't exactly been quiet on other days I've ambled along either. I'll buy that anything to help the town is good, and the gift shops and food outlets were doing a roaring trade all three days, but I have a feeling they would have done just fine on Monday anyway. Maybe I'm being oversensitive and there is suffering in the town I don't know about, but I'd rather we were able to get on with it ourselves rather than relying on someone jetting in from his villa in the south of France for the day.

Now all I need to do is find the after sun - three days on the beach and my forehead is peeling nicely! Plus 10,000+ steps for three in a row as well. 4-weekly average has topped 9k for the first time.