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Electric Picnic date change attracts farmers’ ire

The Irish Farmers Association has called on promoter Festival Republic to revise its plans to bring forward next year's event

By James Hanley on 05 Sep 2023

Electric Picnic

Electric Picnic


Ireland’s Electric Picnic has raised the ire of local farmers after bringing the festival forward to mid-August for 2024.

The 70,000-cap festival traditionally takes place later in the summer, with its most recent edition held from 1-3 September in Stradbally Hall, Co. Laois, headlined by Billie Eilish, Fred Again.. and The Killers.

But the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says promoter Festival Republic should revise its plans to stage next year’s event from 16-18 August to avoid clashing with harvest season.

“This changing of the dates came out of the blue and it is going to cause huge problems for local farmers,” says IFA county chair John Fitzpatrick. “The dates announced for 2024… are right in the middle of harvest season. To expect that the harvest and the movement of grain can take place with 70,000 people piling into a small rural town is not realistic.

“It’s a time where there will be lots farm machinery on the roads at the busiest time of the year in one of the busiest tillage areas in the country. There needs to be serious dialogue to resolve this issue and everything must be on the table.”

Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn has denied suggestions the festival was moved to avoid Coldplay’s four concerts in Dublin’s Croke Park, which are set for 29 August to 2 September, stressing that the dates were chosen in order to accommodate certain acts.

“There were some artists we wanted to talk to and were interested in playing but could only make a couple of dates,” said Benn, as per Newstalk. “I just wanted to explore it, really, to see whether it would work, and various circumstantial reasons.

“In fairness I didn’t know it was blinking harvest season”

“Essentially some of the artists that we wanted to play next year could only play two weeks earlier. We just took a decision that we thought was the right thing, really.”

According to Laois Today, Benn played down the controversy when speaking to local media, saying he had already met with farmers to discuss the issue.

“In fairness I didn’t know it was blinking harvest season,” he laughed. “Maybe I should [have known] but I didn’t. I asked the landowner, and he didn’t bloody tell me and I was like, ‘Is everything ok to go?’ And he was, ‘Yeah, it’s all fine.’

“[The farmers] were a bit shocked but they’ve overcome their shock. Yesterday was the only day I didn’t meet them this week. I met them again this morning.

“I’ve given some of them the plan as to how I’m going to overcome it. It’s a good plan, they’ve accepted the plan and I can still get people into the grain store when the festival is on.”

However, Fitzpatrick says the IFA has had no discussions with the promoter, telling Laois Live Leinster Express: “We have never met, there have been no talks, there is no agreement and there was no contact between IFA.”

Benn, who said Electric Picnic would revert to its traditional weekend in 2025, added that he would be applying for planning permission to increase the capacity of the festival by 5,000 to 75,000 from next year.

 


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