Although BBC and ITV television regional news programmes made much of the fact that tickets for Cambridge Folk Festival were being sold on eBay, event programmer Eddie Barcan says it would have been a lot worse if the world-famous outdoor hadn’t offered refunds to anyone who’d bought a ticket and then couldn’t go.
"We offered to pay back the full face value of the ticket and that meant people weren’t pushed into selling on eBay because they couldn’t attend," he explained.
"There were tickets available from online auction sites but they weren’t priced at much above face value. It’s a relatively small event but the main one in the area and these things tend to get noticed more," he added, suggesting he felt some of the television coverage had dramatised the story.
The Cambridge Evening News also ran a piece about the eBay sales but, about six months earlier, it had run one saying it was better for fans to be able to buy online rather than have to queue in person.
Barcan, who runs the 10,000-capacity event for the local city council, says he supports the idea of the government taking legal action against touts – and has made that position clear in various consultation surveys – but believes the U.K. promoters will need to show they have a good refunds policy in place before any laws get passed.
"It’s illegal to re-sell for football and various sporting events but I think all events should be treated equally," Barcan said.
He said the festival was a huge success and the pools of water left by the recent rain were guzzled up by "gully suckers," which meant the July 26-28 happened on a wet site rather than a muddy one.
The main acts included Joan Baez, Nanci Griffith, The Waterboys, Steve Earle, Kate Rusby, Toots & The Maytals, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Show Of Hands and Bruce Cockburn.