THOUSANDS of young farmers will return to Blackpool next month – a year after turning their back on the resort amid claims of “overzealous policing.”
Around 4,000 members from Young Farmers’ Clubs are expected between May 6 and 8 for the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs AGM at the Winter Gardens.
The event was last held in the resort in 2009. Blackpool was on the cards to be the host again last year until the young farmers’ fun was cut short when police and licensing officers closed bars in the Winter Gardens early amid fears of drunken behaviour getting out of hand.
The federation claimed “the policing affected the decision for 2010” and they opted for the Devon resort of Torbay instead. In 2009, the Blackpool bars were scheduled to stay open until 2am, but officers asked management to close them between 11.30pm and 12.30am over concerns of underage teenagers drinking and “potential for disorder caused from drunkenness”.
The Young Farmers have held their “highlight of the year” event 19 times in Blackpool since 1974 and this year, Blackpool Police say they are “happy with the arrangements”.
Chief Supt Richard Debicki (pictured), from Blackpool Police, said: “Members of the Young Farmers have been involved in the planning process for this year’s event and we are happy with the arrangements that have been put in place. We welcome them to Blackpool and will be here to ensure they have a safe visit to the town.”
The event is worth an estimated £2m to the resort.
Mandy Tythe-McCallum, business tourism manager VisitBlackpool said: “Blackpool will, I’m sure, warmly welcome the country’s Young Farmers’ Clubs members back with open arms for this year’s convention and I’m confident many delegates that have been before will notice the impressive changes to the town that have happened since they last used the resort for their annual gathering.
“We are investigating if we can arrange a special worm charming competition on one of the beaches, as I believe this is a popular pastime amongst many of the delegates.
“Either way I’m sure many people in the town will enjoy having a group of such hard working and energetic young people around, and that many local businesses will directly benefit from their presence through tourism revenue.”
Many of the farmers heading to Blackpool from across the country are carrying out fundraising events during the journey.
Hollie Harris, NFYFC events steering group chairwoman, said: “The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs is delighted to be returning to Blackpool for this event which is the highlight of the YFC calendar.
“We have enjoyed working with the venue, businesses and authorities in Blackpool, which always makes us very welcome and works hard to ensure the event is a success.”