GREAT Harwood’s popular Winter Warmer has found itself out in the cold.
The organising committee has had to cancel this year’s event, scheduled for 28 November, after eight months of planning and raising funds.
Chairman Janet Doyle said: “Unfortunately, we cannot afford a full road closure with stalls along the streets as we have been unable to raise sufficient funds.
“We considered the alternative of holding a festival market on the Holgate Street car park but this is no longer a viable option either.
“A formal closure would be a very complicated process at this late stage considering the number of stalls booked and, having taken professional advice, we do not feel that we could close the car park on an informal basis because we wouldn’t have the legal right to do so. We have also consulted with Hyndburn Council on this matter.
“We have tried everything possible and considered all the options for the event and even delayed making the final decision until this late stage in the hope that more community groups would get on board, more shops would stay open and more people would come forward to raise funds and support the event.”
Barbara Sharples, who co-ordinates the fund-raising, said: “Sadly less than a dozen shops had agreed to stay open on the night compared with more than 30 in 2006.
“Business donations are down by £1,600 and, although we received several small grants from Lancashire County Council, Hyndburn Council and Great Harwood Area Council, we simply don’t have enough money.
“It takes almost £10,000 to host the event and there is no way we can raise that amount of money at this late stage.
“Only a handful of community, voluntary and faith groups had taken stalls this year. The high cost of the event cannot be justified when there has been so little take-up from local people so we have been left with no option but to cancel the event.”
Great Harwood Area Council will still be holding the Christmas lights switch-on ceremony and best-dressed window competition but the fancy dress competition and torchlight parade will not now go ahead as planned.
Organisers will return funding to everyone who had contributed.
Janet and Barbara said they are extremely disappointed at the outcome after all the hard work and time given by festival association committee members.
They added: “We would like to thank everyone who supported the event during the planning stage but in the current economic climate it is just not possible to go ahead this year.”
Early in the New Year the committee will meet to review the future of the event and decide what to do with any money and assets.