A CALL has gone out to businesses, traders and other groups in Pickering for help and support in organising the town’s Wartime Weekend.
The local economy receives an estimated boost of more than £1 million each year with between 50,000 and 60,000 people attending.
However, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR), which organises the event, is now appealing for greater involvement from the community to safeguard the Wartime Weekend’s long-term future.
General manager Philip Benham said stopping the event was not currently on the agenda but issues had to be addressed.
“We have no plans to stop doing it but what we are saying is that we could do with some help,” he said.
“The event has grown and grown during the past 20 years and although the railway has continued to run it, the weekend does benefit a lot of people and trade in the area.”
Mr Benham said the NYMR was a relatively small organisation which relied heavily on volunteers, especially for events such as this.
“This event is now too big for our small team and it is time for those organisations and individuals in the town that benefit from it, to look at sharing the burden and make it easier to manage,” he said.
The Wartime Weekend came under some criticism last year with visitors hitting out at increased prices and charges for admission to Pickering Station.Mr Benham said these issues were being addressed but practical and financial help with the event costing between £8,000 to £10,000 to stage.
“The weekend is of considerable benefit to Pickering as a whole and we continue to be very much committed to it especially as it happens at the end of the tourist season,” he said.
“A small number of people have to take on a disproportionate part of the burden – between us it is now time to find a wider pool of resources and make this event easier to manage.”
Coun William Oxley, mayor of Pickering, said the event has started as purely a railway event but over the years the NYMR had taken responsibility for events in the town itself including the parade.
“While the town council has said it is not possible to provide financial support we could look at helping to connect the railway with people who might be able to do so including the town’s business group,” he said.
“With so many people coming to the town this is an issue that had to be faced at some point – it costs money to put on this event but it brings added value to Pickering.
Coun Oxley said: “The railway has waved a flag indicating that help is needed and that is something we need to look at.”