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Southampton Mela cancelled
ORGANISERS of Southampton’s biggest free summer festival were today counting the cost after they were forced to cancel the event amid dismal weather conditions.
The Southampton Mela was expected to attract more than 20,000 people for a colourful feast of multi-cultural music, dancing and food.
But with Hoglands Park effectively waterlogged, organisers were left with no option but to pull the plug on the £70,000 annual jamboree with just hours to go before the start.
It was just one of a number of events cancelled over the weekend as lashing rain played havoc with fetes, sports fixtures and carnivals.
Today Mela organisers were beginning the process of assessing whether any of the costs could be recovered or if they had gone down the drain.
It was unclear last night whether organisers were insured against the event being cancelled.
Marketing officer Lucy- Jane Attrill said: “This took 12 months to organise and two years ago 25,000 people came.
“When we started to get the stall holders in the park was just so soggy after all the rain.
“We had health and safety concerns about cars getting on to the grass but we were also worried about damaging the park.
“Everybody puts so much effort and time and passion in to the day.
“From a professional point of view, you just have to say ‘this has happened, let’s get on with it’. But pers o n a l l y speaking, I’m gutted.”
Saturday’s torrential rain also wrecked plans to hold a Jubilee Fete at Lloyd Recreation Ground in Marchwood. It will now take place in September.
The annual Hat Fair in Winchester was also hit.
Having already scrapped plans for the showpiece Waterlitz event that appeared in Southampton last month, a performance by the Square Peg Circus, which was due to close the event at River Park last night, was also axed.
Organisers said the circus skills show needed dryer underfoot conditions for the safety of performers.
Hat Fair artistic director Kate Hazel said: “It’s always disappointing when you have to cancel things especially when you work so hard throughout the year.
“The ground at River Park is just too wet to do the intricate stunts. If the performers are wet and their equipment is wet it’s a recipe for injury. But we ploughed onwards and our performers were very adaptable.
Sometimes they had to stop doing shows because of the rain but they are used to that.”
Yesterday one of Hampshire’s biggest running races was called off.
The New Forest ten-mile attracts more than 1,000 runners and thousands more family members every year to New Park Farm in Brockenhurst.
But with running tracks submerged in water and parking facilities waterlogged, organisers were forced to cancel the event.
Last month tens of thousands were left disappointed after the Red Arrows were forced to abandon plans for three separate displays over Southampton.
They were first expected to roar over the city as part of the celebration’s for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations at Mayflower Park.
Last week, the famous display team was due to fly past Southampton Docks twice in one day when seven huge cruise ships were in the city to mark the 175th anniversary of P&O Cruises.