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Being offered the opportunity to review a Family Festival in Leeds I jumped at the chance. I set off in the morning of Bank Holiday Monday, 26th May 2014 with my three children in tow….Typical Teenager (It’s not fair) Boy aged 15 1/2 years, Total Tom Boy, Girl aged 7 3/4 years and Princess, Girl 6 1/4 years. You can call me The Reviewer (or mother or mum, if you must), aged 33 years young. The festival: Boomerang Jam, claimed to have something for all the family, so we were all looking forward to a lovely, fun-packed day out. Even the weather appeared to be on our side.
The journey there took us just under one hour, it was relatively easy to locate and it was well sign posted once you were in the right part of the city. I was under the impression that parking would be free, as when I had asked I was told there was ample parking at the location. Imagine my disappointment when it was going to cost me £6 for the day. With a family ticket for 2 adults, 2 children costing £40, the total tally for a family day out would already be racking up. I returned back to my car to display the car park ticket and a passer by was complaining about what a ‘rip off’ the festival was. I listened, but at the same time decided I would make my own mind up, afterall….some people do just like to complain! And, I am not one to follow the crowd so to speak. I approached the ticket office and collected my family ticket left for me. The staff did not seem jolly in the slightest, I thought I would give them the benefit of the doubt as the weather was pretty grim. I proceeded through the gate with my three children in tow…’The Typical Teenager’, 15; ‘The Tom-Boy’, 7; and ‘I’m a Little Princess’, 6. The steward on the gate was the happiest member of staff I saw throughout the whole of our stay. She guided us towards the entrance where you were met by a row of portaloos to the left, large metal fencing and the Mini Farm to the right. “Don’t forget to the see the animals” She said, “There is a donkey and some rabbits and things.” All the time still smiling. That woman deserves a medal. She knew the feedback of the Festival was negative, it was written all over her face, but she still remained friendly and professional throughout. We went to the Mini Farm, very aptly named as it consisted of two donkeys, two alpacas, two sheep, two goats, one large lazy pig, one calf who needed its bum washing, two goats, three guinea pigs, four rabbits and one humongous sized rabbit. Oh and four chickens and a couple of pigeons! Within five minutes maximum ‘I’m a Little Princess’ declares “I’m bored!”, ‘Typical Teenager is still displaying the look of ‘Where the hell are we mother’ whilst ‘Tom-Boy’ is still in hysterics at how huge the rabbit was. Saying that, we certainly did not have to prise her away from the area.
We returned to the entrance of the festival. As I looked around the area, I actually felt a little shocked that this event had been allowed to take place. It was set up in an unfinished car park. A fence in front of me cordoned off some large concrete blocks and very little had been done to cover up what they were.
There were a few food vans dotted about, a display from the Army, a couple of small marquees/tents and some fairground rides and games. We walked over to the small cup and saucers. I admit I expected the rides to be free, unfortunately this was the not the case. Of the small selection of fair rides and activities available there were a handful of things free, namely a climbing wall for older children, a large inflatable bouncy castle slide, cupcake decorating, hook a duck and face painting. Pretty much everything else carried a price tag. Unfortunately, many of the things advertised we not there.
Advertised on the website before the event was:
Unfortunately, there was not much, much more, nor were all of the advertised acts and activities present. I am not sure as to what the arena was supposed to be, unless they were referring to the poorly kept car park/building site, there was no dance tent, no food demonstrations, there were no arts and crafts, no competitions, no beat box performances…. The entertainment on the main stage consisted of a loop of Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam, Bob The Builder, and local dance troups. We stayed for a maximum of one hour and a half and I do believe we pretty much saw the whole of the entertainment.
Not only was the event poorly organised but unfortunately many of the workers, who appeared to be there independently (so I am unsure as to where the entrance fee money was going) were very unprofessional and simply did not seem to care about the very families who had paid to attend the event.
‘Tom Boy’ and ‘I’m a Little Princess’ wanted to go on the trampolines. As the large inflatable bouncy castle had been free, I assumed that the trampolines would be too….. How incorrect could I have been! The damage…£4 each for 5 minutes. The 5 minutes included the time it took the children to take off and put back on their shoes, so around £1 a minute for jumping on a trampoline. In fact the worker started attaching another child into the harness whilst Tom Boy was trying to put her shoes back on. There was no area for them to take their shoes off or put them on so the only place was to sit on the side of the trampoline to do it. More alarmingly, whilst I was there, an organiser came over and asked one of the workers if he has been smoking whilst putting a child on the trampoline as they had just received a complaint. Within the small marquee, there were a couple of free things for the children to do. There was free face painting, you could have a model balloon made or you do do some cupcake decorating. Oh…and not forgetting you could milk a large plastic cow, supplied by Arla Foods, which in actual fact ‘I’m a Little Princess’ actually enjoyed for a shortwhile.
As a parent, the most highlighting part of the event for me was speaking with one of the owners of Stir Krazy, a children’s cookery club. It was lovely to see the passion she had for her business and hear about the reasons she decided to set up the club. Cathie went on to tell me about the holiday clubs and children’s parties they run in Leeds and surrounding areas and how they are a new business. I wish Cathie and her partner Sarah all the best, as their concept is a lovely idea for children and a great alternative to conventional childcare.
The misery of the majority of the rest of the staff and stall holders could not be contained, and was perhaps most apparent on the face of the balloon modeler who, not only looked uninterested….but also appeared to do a runner half way through the day. One little girl asked the man if he would make her a flower, he obviously was not listening or could not be bothered as he handed her an orange looking dog. A man asked for a giraffe and the balloon man told him he did not have time to make a giraffe. I could not believe my ears. There was no interaction with the children at all. When it came to ‘I’m a Little Princess’ wanting her balloon, ‘Typical Teenager’ had also heard everything going on, and so for his entertained told her to ask for a zebra. At the same time I made a comment that all the balloons looked the same and he looked like he needed to be elsewhere. He must have heard me, as amazingly ‘Princess’ ended up with something resembling a zebra.
The ‘Festival’ claimed it was part of the Food and Drink Festival, however there was nothing at this festival to suggest such a thing. The only food available were in the form of the usual burger vans, there was one creperie van. No evidence of any cooking demonstrations and there was one small beer tent, which was hardly used, probably because most parents did not appear to want to stay that long. All in all, it was a disappointment. I am not sure what went wrong, whether there were lots of booked acts that did not turn up or whether it was just very poorly organised.
I have waited a couple of days to write this review, in the hope the organisers may have issued some sort of explanation but to date nothing has been released. Quite honestly, if I was the owner of the venue (http://thetetley.org/) I would not have allowed the event to go ahead. It is such a shame, the organisers had a good concept here, but there simply was not enough organisation, enough things to keep people entertained, and the ticket pricing was just all wrong. There was nothing to keep a 15 year old entertained, which I know is difficult at the best of times, but I had hoped that the dance tent would do that. My two daughters aged 7 and 6 were bored within an hour and a half. After searching the internet I have found many other complaints from families simply feeling that the festival was a scam and a rip off. We can only hope that the organisers are able to compensate the families in some way by providing such a sub standard event, at an extortionate price and wasting valuable family time. You can read other reviews here and here
SUMMARY Event: Boomerang Jam Family Festival, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK Date Attended: 26th May 2014 Value for Money?: No Toilet Facilities: Plenty of portaloos, the ones I visited had plenty of toilet roll and hand sanitiser. Baby facilities were located within the Tetley Building, meaning parents having to leave the festival area. Recommend to Other Families?: No Would you attend again: Yes. I would love to see the event organisers put on the event that they advertised and this time do it justice, and get the pricing right! I would like to come back next time and be able to give a postive review. Overall Rating: 1/10 Reason for Rating: My children did enjoy the large inflatable bouncy castle slide and meeting Peppa Pig and Ben 10. The event was over priced, unorganised. Not enough activities to keep families entertained.
WHAT MY CHILDREN HAD TO SAY:
If you need to contact Boomerang Jam here, you can do this here: http://boomerangjam.co.uk/ https://www.facebook.com/boomerangjam?fref=ts Related Articles: Booming Bank Holiday Entertainment for all the Family (Blogizing.wordpress.com) Reviews of Boomerang Jam (Mumsnet.com) Boomerang Jam on Facebook If you attended the event and left feeling disappointed with your experience please feel free to leave a review in our comments, or a link if you have posted a review elsewhere. Acknowledgements: Blogizing would like to thank the organisers of Boomerang Jam Festival for providing a Family Ticket to allow us to come and review the event for you. Although we were disappointed this time around, we hope you can learn and grow 🙂