Fringe Box



Long Queue Spoils Surrey County Show For Some

Published on: 27 May, 2013
Updated on: 29 May, 2013
One man peers forward to the head of the queue to enter the County show. According to one witness the estimated queue time was 2-3 hours.

One man peers forward to the head of the queue to enter the Surrey County Show. According to one visitor, the estimated queue time was two to three hours. Photo Paul Bridgland.

It was not all sweetness and light at today’s (May 27) Surrey County Show. According to at least one visitor, well known to The Guildford Dragon NEWS, the long entrance queues were a real problem for some and even put off a number from attending at all.

Paul Bridgland, director of the Best of Guildford and one of the organisers of the recent Guildford Means Business Exhibition at G Live, said:  “I attempted to go, and having queued for 30 minutes to park was then confronted by a queue that stretched all the way back to Spectrum. The estimated time to queue and buy a ticket was two to three hours.”

According to Mr Bridgland the problem was caused by a higher than normal attendance coupled with two ticket booths operating very slowly.

He said: “Clearly the good weather had brought people out which was great, but it appears that the organisers have screwed up when it come to taking people’s money and getting them in!

“The problem could be have been easily fixed or eased perhaps if  a couple of ‘correct change only’ desks had been used.

“I did ask the security manager who said, ‘It isn’t my  problem’. He only dealt with security and that nothing could be done. I then asked to speak to the organisers but was told they weren’t taking any calls!”

“When I was there at around 11.30am, I estimated that approximately 50 people were turning around and going home every five minutes. That’s about 500 an hour, or £1,000 an hour in lost revenue, and a lot of angry people who might not bother to come back next year!

“It seemed to me to be a classic example of not so much of poor organisation but of a very British inability, or at least unwillingness, to react pro-actively to a problem as it occurred.”

Another reader wrote: “You could also still buy tickets and print at home on the day which would avoid any queue. They would do well to offer full eticketing so you could buy and use your phone to gain entry.

“We purchased online during the discounted period which meant we only had to queue for under two minutes to have our tickets checked.”

Did you attend the show? What was your experience? Did you have to queue up for a long time and give up or was your experience of the admission process positive?

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Responses to Long Queue Spoils Surrey County Show For Some

  1. David Rose Reply

    May 27, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    I attended the show and it is my report and photos that appear elsewhere on The Guildford Dragon NEWS. As we live fairly near Stoke Park, we cycled there, and although I had a press pass for myself and one other, we paid the entrance fee for my daughter.
    We entered via the path beside Guildford College from Lido Road. We arrived at about the same time as Paul Bridgland and there was no queue at all there.
    We locked our bikes at the Nightingale Road entrance. Here there was another public entrance and people were streaming in at a fast rate. No queues at all.
    A tip for next year for those who go by car, walk round to one of the other entrances away from the main parking area.
    In its pre publicity, Surrey County Show offered generous discounts by booking ahead of the day and on line. But I guess it is the same with most outdoor events, many people do not want to buy tickets in advance due to our unpredictable weather.

  2. Paul Bridgland Reply

    May 28, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Interesting comment from David Rose and, of course, I would have entered had I known that, but I didn’t and nor did the other 500+ people queueing at the main entrance. Wouldn’t it have been a good idea for staff to direct people in the queue to other entrances? Perhaps a sign or two? If access was so fast and easy from other entrances why on earth were people not being told to go to them?

    I think a lot of the people who left will be even more angry to hear that they could have got in easily by simply strolling round to another entrance. It kind of makes it all the worse!

    Parking, by the way, wasn’t the issue. No one minds waiting 30 minutes to park. It was the entrance/ticket buying procedure that was hopelessly inadequate, although I understand from my son who attended t 2.30 that it was no longer an issue and that there were extra booths, so clearly they did ultimately respond which I am pleased to hear.

    On David’s final point, most people made the decision to attend on the day. Had the weather been as it is this morning (and originally forecast) many would have given it a miss. Outdoor events such as this must accept our British weather and account for the fact that people will be reticent to book online in advance. I’m not sure if there was any financial incentive to book online? If there was, it might encourage more people to buy advance tickets, guaranteeing some revenue for the show regardless of the weather and easing the queue situation. Maybe something to consider for next year?

  3. Gill Perkins Reply

    May 28, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    I booked my tickets a couple of days in advance, and there was a decent saving for booking ahead online – although I don’t think this was advertised on the posters and banners for the show (could be wrong).

    I didn’t know there was more than one entrance selling/checking tickets, so it seems that better signage and perhaps communication between the organisers and the security staff on the ground could be improved next year.

    We had a great day at the show, helped of course by the weather, and hopefully the same is true for everyone else who made it inside!

  4. Louise Peters Reply

    May 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I understand Paul Bridgeland’s frustrations that, incidentally, are much worse at some of the larger music festivals around the country, to put this a little in perspective.

    I do not, however, understand the motive behind publishing and promoting a negative image of a charity show with a very positive intention and outlook, fighting to survive in a hugely difficult economy and social and physical environment.

    I am certain that constructive and supportive comments would be welcomed directly, quietly and calmly, as opposed to being blossomed negatively via the online community?

    Delighted that David Rose benefitted from some advanced planning and hopefully advanced ticket sales will benefit as a result in future years.

    We must ask ourselves what can be achieved, except the death of such events nationally, in building a short-lived negative collaboration?

    This is the reality of how on the edge such shows are.

    • Martin Giles Reply

      May 28, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      In response to Ms Peters.

      The Guildford Dragon NEWS did not commission or seek the report from Paul Bridgland and there was no ‘short-lived negative collaboration’, whatever that is supposed to mean. The fact that Mr Bridgland is well known to the Guildford Dragon team did allow us to put more trust in his report which was backed up by several photographs (not just the one published).

      From the outset we understood that Mr Bridgland’s experience might not have been typical, our headline shows that only some were affected, but that does not remove the frustration for those who did have to queue for a long time.

      In this case, we invited others to comment based on their experience and indeed their comments indicate that it might have been only one queue in particular that was the problem.

      We are not in the business of ‘spinning’ news and will not censor reports to remove genuinely positive or negative aspects of any news story but continue to report as accurately, with balance, as best we can. Inevitably we will not keep everyone happy but there we are. In general our coverage of the show was very positive, reflecting, correctly I believe, its overall success. Long may it continue.

      Martin Giles

      Publisher of The Guildford Dragon NEWS

  5. Brian Matthews Reply

    May 28, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    I’m not sure from which source Mr Bridgland obtains his weather forecasts, but the BBC 5 day forecast was spot on and I therefore purchased my tickets on Friday and saved myself £5 in the process.

    I entered on the Nightingale Road entrance and although I only had a minimal wait, the scanners that the gate supervisors were using did seem very slow and I understand that this did cause some delays later on around lunchtime. Also there was a lack of direction as to which queue people should be waiting in.

    My main gripe would be that the event was actually overcrowded, with it being quite difficult to see some exhibits and progress along the avenues was very slow in places, although I’m sure this could have been greatly speeded up if there were less pushchairs there. I know that this is a family event, but why would you take a double buggy to such a crowded event is beyond me, but there you go.

    Overall, I had a very enjoyable day at the Surrey County Show, I had not been for many years and certainly look forward to attending again next year.

  6. Ngaire Wadman Reply

    May 28, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    I bought my ticket online in advance, but then I would, as I was helping on one of the stalls! The queue at the main Red car park entrance WAS horrendous at 11.45 when I went out, but by 1pm it seemed to have shortened considerably – quite a few people would have given up and gone home, but those that were patient did get in eventually. I must say the Show did seem to be extremely busy – we were on a pitch by the bandstand, and hundreds of people passed us every hour. It was a great day for exhibitors. And the 1920’s jazz/light music group were brilliant – really good musicians, and very funny as well. We’ll definitely be back next year.

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