CANCELLED 2011 Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling Festival
Threats and hostility finally kill off Cheese Rolling Festival.
The organisers of the traditional cheese rolling on Cooper’s Hill have decided to call it a day after running the gauntlet of threats and abuse over the proposed introduction of a £20 entrance fee.
At a meeting on Tuesday March 22, the Cheese Rolling Committee decided that the public backlash to the new two-day paid-for formula has made the event unworkable.
Individual committee members have reported being subjected to verbal abuse, being spat at in the street and threatened with violence both to themselves and their homes.
It is feared that the event, whose roots go back hundreds of years, will now die.
Ironically, the cheese rolling has been a victim of its own success, as the last event in 2009 attracted a crowd of about 15,000 to a venue equipped to cope with only 5,000.
For that reason the 2010 event was cancelled over worries about health and safety and traffic management and it was decided to revive the tradition for 2011 as a properly organised and controlled two-day festival with races and the re-introduction of the wake games.
But the outcry against the introduction of a £20 entry fee was the final nail in the coffin for the committee, which is composed of residents of the Cooper’s Hill area.
Cheese Rolling Committee spokesman Richard Jefferies said: “We have decided very reluctantly that expanding the event to create a ticketed two day festival is unworkable.
“Since we announced an entry fee, we have been bombarded with so much hostility and criticism, much of it at a personal level, including accusations of profiteering and some of the committee have even received threats.
“People have been spat at in the street, received verbal abuse in shops and at school gates and there has even been talk of bricks through windows and houses being burned down.
“We have also endured a torrent of on-line criticism and abuse from cowards who failed to identify themselves by hiding behind false identities. It has been horrific.
“We find these insults, accusations and threats hurtful, frightening and totally unjustified. The committee members have always given freely of their time and effort for years without making a brass farthing from it.”