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Electric Picnic organisers rubbish ‘final year’ rumours

TheJournal.ie took a sneak peak behind the scenes at the Electric Picnic site today to see how preparations for how this weekend’s festival are going.

Mundy gears up for the weekend during a practice session at the EP Body and Soul stage today.
Mundy gears up for the weekend during a practice session at the EP Body and Soul stage today.
Image: Lindsey Holmes Publicity

THE ORGANISERS OF Electric Picnic have said that the festival is here to stay for another few years at least, rubbishing rumours that the event is on the way out.

Site Manager Robbie Butler has told TheJournal.ie that ticket sales remain as strong as in recent years, with an estimated 30,000 people already heading to Laois this weekend. Capacity for the festival is 32,500.

The gates of the festival in Stradbally in Co Laois were opened a few days early for TheJournal.ie today, inviting us in for a sneak peak as the finishing touches are added to the site.

Already the main stage has been erected, a Jamaican dance haven is secreted away in the woods surrounding the site, and there are hundreds of people working on every aspect of the event, from the Body and Soul arena with its hobbit-esque Earth Ship stage buried in a mound of earth, to the Arcadia outdoor DJ structure.

The Electric Picnic site sits in the shadow of Stradbally Hall, the ancestral home of the Cosby family. Thomas Cosby said today that having tens of thousands of people descending on his front garden for three days isn’t too much of an inconvenience, and that they’re “well practiced” at getting things to run smoothly at this stage, with the festival in its eighth year. He said that he’s looking forward to catching a bit of Arcade Fire when they play the main stage this weekend.

Local residents have welcomed the event with open arms. Patrick Ramsbottom and Patricia Buggy at Ramsbottoms Pub told TheJournal.ie that the festival brings a “nice crowd” into the small village and that there’s a great atmosphere in the area. They also see a boost in business with those working on site coming in to unwind, and revellers heading into the village for a drink or a chance to catch a sporting event on TV.

Local shop owner Sylvester Phelan said that he’s seen people from all over the world coming into his business as a result of the festival, and that they miss it when all the hustle and bustle is over. He said those in attendance are the “nicest people you could ever hope to meet” and they’re always quite disappointed when the music fans “disappear like the snow” for another year.

Site Manager Robbie Butler admitted that Electric Picnic does have a major impact on the local community, with “lots of good elements and just a few bad”. He and his team liaise with a residents committee all year round and operate and open door policy when it comes to questions and issues.

Electric Picnic kicks off on Friday and the music continues until Sunday night with campsites open until Monday. Arcade Fire, Pulp, The Chemical Brothers, Public Enemy and Interpol are among the acts playing. David O’Doherty and Maeve Higgins are among the acts taking to the stage in the comedy tent, while Bob Geldof, Roddy Doyle and John Banville will be taking part in spoken word events at Mindfield.

In numbers: the Electric Picnic 2011 >

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Emer McLysaght

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