After 17 years of bringing world class entertainment to the streets of Waterford, Spraoi are more than a little adept at coping with a drop of rain.
Or even a lot of rain, like that which threatened to severely dampen spirits last weekend during the city’s much-loved annual street party. But people nonetheless turned out in their thousands to enjoy the 200 plus gigs that Spraoi, as always, brought free to Waterford for the Bank Holiday weekend, culminating in a vivid fireworks display over the River Suir on Sunday night.
Programme Director Miriam Dunne admitted that the Spraoi team was quite disheartened by Friday’s inclement weather. “Friday was such a tough day for us, I don’t think I’ve put in such a difficult day in 17 years of doing the festival. But we managed to move almost every gig indoors and people still came out to support the acts, while the AOL stage in John Robert’s Square ran until 9pm, with a great crowd turning out to see Torann.”
One of the weekend’s headline gigs, from French company Transe Express, had to be postponed on Friday night but the show went ahead on both Saturday afternoon and evening at Miller’s Marsh and enthralled the masses with the Mobile Oblique Et Bancal. About 5,000 people turned out on Saturday evening to see the colossal mobile, which suspended a group of drummers high above the rooftops in a breathtaking show of serial acrobatics.
Crowds flocked to the city on the sunny Saturday afternoon, with family-orientated entertainment in Wyse Park and Cathedral Square proving especially popular. A highly successful addition to this year’s festivities was the relocation of the Blackfriar’s market to John Robert’s Square on Saturday afternoon. “The City Council worked with us to bring the market to the centre of things for the day and it was a great success”, Ms Dunne noted. “It’s definitely something we’ll be looking at again in future years.”
Thankfully the rain held off until Sunday evening, ensuring a high attendance at that day’s events too and substantial crowds were recorded at both the John Robert’s Square and WVW Plaza stages by the time local lads Brass and Co and German sensation 17 Hippies closed musical proceedings and the Clem Jacob-sponsored fireworks lit up the city’s skyline.
About 250 people volunteered their time to Spraoi over the weekend and their efforts, Ms Dunne noted, are the backbone of the festival. “I have to hand it to our reliable volunteers, many of whom got absolutely soaked on Friday, still turned up for duty with a smile on their faces on Saturday and then got caught out in more rain on Sunday. Their great
attitude is what makes Spraoi what it is.
Gardaí said more than 30,000 turned out on the city’s streets on Saturday, while the footfall over the weekend has been estimated at more than 100,000. They reported a relatively quiet weekend in terms of crime, given the large crowds on the city’s streets, with just a ‘handful’ of people arrested for public order offences.