I’ve taken a day or so to put together my thoughts on the Geronimo Festival we attended on Bank Holiday Sunday as, if you have heard anything about the festival you’ll have also heard it caused a few complaints.
From the start I want to make it clear that I wasn’t given free tickets or any sort of payment to write this post, it is completely independent review of the event with tickets paid for out of my own pocket.
I also want to say we had a great time, despite rain, toddler tantrums and some event issues that do need addressing, so even if the start of the post seems really negative- it does get better.
The Big Day
I have been looking forward to the event for months, it was going to be Monkey’s first taste of a festival and with Mr. Bloom and Justin Fletcher on the main stage, I was sure she was going to have a ball.
We found the traffic to be no worse than expected. We had left a little bit later than we wanted and the normal 10 minute journey took nearly an hour, but to be fair I drive past Harewood House on my way to work and it can take almost that long if I leave ten minutes late in a morning. Also, we expect traffic jams on the way to a big event.
The queues to get in appeared huge and it was raining, so I have to say when Monkey started throwing her first tantrum (of what turned out to be many) I did consider going home. But, the queues moved at a reasonable pace and we were soon in the gates. We were very glad we had gone with the festival favourites of wellies and waterproofs as it was muddy, but hey we were in a field!
Our first issue was trying to work out what was where and when the shows were coming on.
The was an outdoor arena in the middle of the field and all around it were tents, big tops and stages along with fairground rides such as helter skelters, carousel, swings. At the bottom of the field was a giant airbag, slack lining and a climbing wall.
We expected there to be programs for sale and had taken cash for this as we know they are usually around £5. We eventually found the timings, there were boards up at the entrances to some of the tents. Unfortunately there were no site maps, so we ended up doing a lot of roaming.
We found the main stage but by this time Monkey was in full on tantrum mode. She wouldn’t be in the buggy she had been determined she wanted to go in at the car, she wouldn’t walk, she wouldn’t be held. She wouldn’t nap, have water or a snack. We were losing our will to live.
We gave in watching Swashbuckle as Monkey was living up to her nick name and found the carousel. This is where issue number 2 came up. There was no queueing system and parents were being completely irresponsible. It took two attempts to actually get her on a horse as other parents were jumping on while it was still moving and putting their child onto horses that other people were still on.
I was pleased to see barriers erected and in and out gates later in the day but I feel that the parents really needed to take responsibility for their actions here.
A quick game of Hook-a-Duck managed to calm down the next unexpected tantrum, where she won a cuddly duck (she didn’t want to let the plastic one go) then an attempt at the slack lining, which I was really pleased she wanted a go at, even though she wasn’t overly successful she certainly gave it a fair try!
Unfortunately another tantrum ensued when Mr. Tired Happy decided to do the air bag jump and Monkey wanted to go with him. Being far too small and underweight, obviously she couldn’t so she ended up sat in the grass with her it’s so unfair face on.
We arrived back at the main stage to see Andy Day doing his Dino Rap, this entertained Monkey for a quite a while (along with a banana and a couple of rice cakes) then it was time for Mr. Bloom. I was delighted we were fairly close to the stage and had a great view. Even though he lost a bit of shine for me when I found out he’s not a real Northerner, he was still great and Monkey made it through half of his set before she had had enough. We watched the rest from afar while we had our picnic lunch.
It was then time for her afternoon nap, so we strapped her in the buggy and took her for a walk around the site. We had hoped to just wander for a bit, while she snoozed, but the sounds and sights were just too much and she chose to howl and scream instead. We went back to the car as we knew if she didn’t nap it would be even worse and we’d never get to see Justin Fletcher.
Even though she didn’t nap, an hour’s quiet away from everything seemed to recharge the batteries and almost seemed to hit reset.
As we’d been sitting in the car we noticed a lot of people were leaving. I have to be fair and say I did have a cry and a whine in the car about everything, but I know that our personal circumstances had a lot to do with our slightly rubbish but still quite good morning.
And so we started back out into the rain walking in the opposite direction to everyone else, but I had had my cry and was ready to make the afternoon a good one.
First thing we did was get on a donkey ride. Monkey loves pony rides and this didn’t disappoint. It was a short ride but this helped keep waiting times down along with taking around ten donkeys at a time.
Next it was in to see the giant tortoises. My only issue with this was that we had to pay for it, even though the event was supposed to be free apart from food and it asked for donations but you couldn’t go in unless you paid £2 per person, so to me that’s a charge not a donation. It wasn’t a lot but we had only really expected to pay for a program so after paying out for this and Hook a Duck earlier, our cash was running a bit low. I’d rather have known in advance so we could have taken more money.
We watched the motorbike stunts for a short while before catching the second part of Mr. Bloom that we had had to walk away from earlier. Monkey seemed to have had a complete personality change and was loving Mr. Bloom, clapping and singing along.
Then, it was the big one- Justin Fletcher. We expected Monkey to go a bit mental seeing him in real life, but she just seemed a bit confused and had been more excited about Mr. Bloom!
It was still fun to dance and sing along with her, but I do think she’d have been more excited if he had been Mr. Tumble or maybe if she was a year older.
We had another go on the carousel, this time forming an orderly queue, a wander through some of the craft tents and watched a street entertainer.
By this time it was half five and time to go as Monkey hadn’t had a nap all day. We left happy and really looking forward to next year!
Top Tips for having a great day
– Arrive early. We left a bit too late but were still parked up by 10.30am and near to the entrance
– Take a picnic. We took a flask of coffee, snacks and sandwiches. From past experience of events we know food is usually expensive and there are long queues. It also meant we could snack while watching the main stage.
– Take waterproofs and wellies. It’s a festival, expect to get wet and muddy!
– Be prepared to queue, or avoid the attractions with long queues. Again, when you have an event where most of the attractions are free, there are going to be queues. We used tactics learnt at Disneyland and avoided the really popular ones such as My Little Pony bus and helter skelter. We went back on the carousel just as Justin Fletcher finished and lots of people were at the main stage. Of course, this will be more difficult when Monkey is older and has more of a say in what she wants to do!
Improvements we hope to see for next year
– A site map is definitely needed. I’d be more than happy to pay for a program just to know where everything is. We missed the whole of the Under 3’s section (found out about it on Twitter after the event)
– Better signage, this along with a map would have made the day a lot easier.
– A bigger main stage and higher than the crowd. It was small and with the uneven ground made viewing difficult from some points. We found near to the front or a long way back were the best places to see from. A screen at the stage would have been good too.
– Mention that some attractions (Hook a Duck and Giant Tortoises) require payment. We didn’t mind too much as it was relatively small but just wish we had known so we could take extra cash.
– Some way to ease queues on main attractions. I don’t know how, and it didn’t affect us too much but a ticket system with time slots on things like the helter skelter would have probably helped
-Some sunshine! I really think there wouldn’t have been quite so many complaints if the sun had been shining as standing around would have been far more pleasant.