GoFest is a family festival of sport, dance, health and fitness and has made tremendous progress since first being established. Sport in Profile Magazine recently caught up with GoFest Founder Paul Harris to find out more.
SIP: Could you tell us a little more about Go Fest and what it involves?
PF: A chance to “have a Go” at 40–50 different activities in one inspirational location over one weekend, however old you are and whatever ability you may be. Plus entertainment, food and drink areas, massage, live music, chill out areas, big screens, tournaments and much more! People buy an ALL INCLUSIVE ticket and all the activities and sports are then free once inside. It’s the Sporting Glastonbury or Mass Participation Olympics!
SIP: How long have you been involved and what first attracted you to Go Fest?
PF: We researched the market back in 2014. We found lots of runs, triathlons and things for kids to do, especially for reasonably affluent, but much less for families to do together and much less that involved a huge array of choices! My background is corporate events, often large scale and complex, but my passion has always been sport and dance!
So in essence I tried to create something that married my experience with my passions but that hadn’t really been done before, not on this scale anyway … delivering simultaneous coaching sessions in 40–50 activities inside and out with lots of fun, entertainment and a real festival vibe too. There are also the very real and worsening issues to do with inactivity and obesity which we are now starting to see GoFest have an impact on.
SIP: What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your role?
PF: The challenges are numerous – finding reliable and great quality coaches (from clubs, businesses and NGBs), getting enough people to come (marketing it widely enough!) as our capacities are huge, and also attracting sponsors and exhibitors to believe in something new.
The rewards come mainly from seeing so many people having an amazing time and all playing so many different sports or doing dance and fitness classes all over a vast area, and finding something new that they love and want to carry on with. The feedback we have received each year has been overwhelming and some of the stories about improving kids (and adults) confidence in their ability etc. have been really brilliant!
SIP: How would you say 2017 went?
PF: Really well. We launched in Manchester and despite the terrorist attack a few weeks before and bad weather we attracted 1500 people and some amazing feedback. In Surrey it was our 3rd year and we hosted 3,500 people over the weekend, our best yet, despite poor weather as well.
SIP: What are your plans for 2018?
PF: We have produced two small GoFests events inside in February and April but the main ones are on June 23/24 in Manchester at the inspirational venue of the Etihad Campus and on July 21/22 in Guildford again (another amazing venue … Surrey Sports Park).
SIP: Have you any advice for people interested in getting involved?
PF: You can buy tickets to come and have the time of your life (an active holiday on your doorstep) by buying tickets at www.gofest.co.uk and if you want to promote your business/club or to deliver some of the coaching etc. e mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07774 629242.
SIP: What do you believe could be some of the biggest challenges you may face in the coming years?
PF: We want to take the whole movement national but we need a corporate sponsor with the vision to back us. We have plans for several cities around the UK but we desperately need a sports retailer, supermarket, bank or other business with wellbeing in its mission to come alongside us and our Media partners at Trinity Mirror plc.
SIP: What are your ambitions for the next five years?
PF: To develop 8–10 large regional festivals and many smaller ones at Universities etc. and make a really significant impact on obesity and inactivity rates. And to have a whole heap of fun with it all at the same time!