Usually at the IWA festivals the Boaters' Christian Fellowship organises two services on the Sunday. One, at 0800, is a short communion service intended for boaters, campers and site staff; the other, often at 1030, is for members of the public too.
This year the BCF was sidelined, to an extent, by the churches in Watford. They had arranged for their annual open-air combined service to coincide with the festival. Fencing was moved so as to make the trailer stage temporarily part of the "outside" space, meaning that the public didn't have to pay to go to church (though they were encouraged to buy tickets for the festival afterwards).
I estimated that 500 people attended the open-air service, most of whom, presumably, were from the Watford churches.
Before that, though, and a much quieter affair, was the communion service in the Food Court. Even this seemed to have little BCF involvement as it was led by two Waterways Chaplains.
Perhaps things will be back to "normal" next year.
Regarding the festival itself, though, I hope the IWA will do some serious thinking about what went wrong this year. Numbers were down, exhibitors must have been disappointed, and many boaters have been expressing their feelings in the blogosphere. Despite the gorgeous weather there just wasn't the buzz of past Nationals. As others have said, nice though Cassiobury Park was, the festival site was too far detached from its raison d'être - the waterway and boats. The Crick boat show seems to have supplanted the IWA National Festival as the main large-scale event of the year. All it needs is some obscure competitions with no advance publicity, such as "best child's drawing of a boat", and the takeover will be complete.
A catch up and an operation - We knew Helen and Andy from Wand'ring Bark and the Jam Butty were down south, so had been trying to meet up with them. It didn't quite work at the weeken...
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