The FUTURE for Merefest is uncertain as officials struggle to gain funding for 2018.

This year was the first year that visitors had to pay a small fee to access the event, a decision made by the Mere Advisory Group who are made up of local councillors and business owners and Shropshire Council.

The new £3 charge was not welcomed by visitors though and ticket sales didn’t do as well as officials had hoped.

Luke Neal, Merefest organiser said: “We need to have a review and see where we are at. This year, we received funding from the Lottery Fund and Tesco Bags of Help which was thrown into a pot.

“We did make some ticket sales so it is a good start but it wasn’t as much as we hoped. If we got the number of ticket sales we wanted it would have guaranteed the return of Merefest – but we haven’t.”

The decision to move the location of Merefest would be a last resort says Luke: “When we came to Ellesmere for the second year it just worked and felt right, we would be very reluctant to move it. We want to make it work where it is as our roots are in the community.”

They have received a huge amount of support this year and Luke says there has been an “overwhelming amount of people who loved the event.”

With the event growing each year, Merefest will from now on be dependent upon an entry fee to cover the festival’s running costs. No-one was denied entry to the park, if you wanted to walk a dog or use the play area it was free, but it was noted that people did access the festival using this option as a way of not paying for a ticket.

A statement from Shaun Burkey, site manager of the mere at Ellesmere said: “As the managers of Cremorne Gardens we in Shropshire Council’s Outdoor Recreation Service were delighted that Merefest was able to return this year.

“This very popular festival was previously funded by Meres and Mosses but this year had to seek other sources of funding to ensure it could continue. This included asking people who wanted to attend the festival to make a contribution. The organisers asked our permission to do this earlier this year and we were fully supportive.

“Without this contribution we realised that the festival would not be able to go ahead and the vast majority of people we have spoken to since have accepted that and don’t have a problem with a small entry charge for what is an excellent family day out.

“In addition it is recognised that Merefest supports so many local businesses and is something that Ellesmere should be rightly proud to host as people travel in their thousands from near and far to attend.”