Military re-enactors threaten to boycott Haworth 1940s Weekend over 'smelly burger vans and beer drinkers'

A military re-enactor has slammed the organisers of the Haworth 1940s Weekend for turning the event into a 'carnival of burger vans and beer drinking'.

Haworth 1940s Weekend
Haworth 1940s Weekend

Dawn Fenton, from Saddleworth, claims that the festival no longer appropriately honours the sacrifice of those who died in World War Two - and now has 'more food stalls than Blackpool promenade'.

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She criticised the decision to position one burger van opposite a Home Guard-themed living history display.

Haworth's streets were decorated in 1940s style

Dawn thinks the event's appeal is now more for visitors who wish to 'goggle' at period outfits and 'drink beer in the park' rather than pay tribute to the war dead and learn more about the conflict.

Thousands of people descended on Haworth for the 1940s Weekend and the event is now hugely popular. Yet dedicated military re-enactors are now considering boycotting Haworth until its traditional image is restored.

Open letter

The event is now far more popular with young families

In a letter to the event organisers, Dawn said:-

"Firstly, it must be a huge task and commitment to take on the organising of an event such as the 1940s Weekend that has just passed at Haworth.

"Unfortunately my email from this point is not to congratulate you but to offer you my thoughts on the event this year.

"A 'carnival' springs to mind, with burger vans, fairground activities and more food stalls than is necessary. The most offensive burger van was the one situated at the bottom of the main street, just opposite the Home Front re-enactors.

"I was so disgruntled with the event and how it has changed for the worse, that I and many of my fellow re-enactor friends will not be returning next year.

"The 1940s events are not just for re-enactors to take part in an event that they enjoy; but for a lot of these people, including myself, it is an opportunity to celebrate the dedication throughout the world wars, where men fought and died for our country.

"Is it not in bad taste then to fill a park full of fairground rides and more food stalls than on Blackpool promenade? Not forgetting the burger van opposite the Home Guard who not only had to endure the foul smell burgers all day, and which detracted from the re-enactment.

"This event has now turned into something else, perhaps just a money-making carnival for the general public who have no interest in WW1 and WW2 but simply go to goggle at folk in nice outfits, drink beer and eat burgers and congregate in the park. This made it less pleasant to dance in and around the bandstand this year.

"I was so disgusted with the event this year that I did not return on the Sunday and myself and many of my re-enactor friends will not be putting Haworth in our diary for next year.

"I urge you to reconsider how this event is organised for next year otherwise you will very quickly find Haworth's 1940s Weekend without any civilian nor military re-enactors, and you will be left with just a family carnival."

Organisers respond

Haworth 1940s Weekend organiser Andrea Leathley has hit back at the criticism, pointing out that the event is designed to appeal to all ages.

"This event is the largest event in the Bradford district and has to cater for many people who all come with different expectations, including the availability of food and drink, all of which provides the funds to pay for the authentic military displays, marching bands, singers and actors and all the many side shows.

"We must remember that this is a living history event that remembers the 1940s, the music and glamour of that era, and not just the war years. We know we can't please all of the 30,000 people who attended each day, but our social media feedback and the vast number of people that we spoke to said it was the best event they have ever attended, and many have already booked to come back next year. The (fully booked) pubs and hotels of Haworth are testament to the appeal of the event.

"We have got to interact with a wide range of people and each year we do listen to the public. We have a lot of children who come now and there wasn't much for them to do before, so we introduced the fairground rides. It's more of a family outing now. It's not going to be to everyone's tastes but we do listen to feedback and take it on board.

"We're not trying to upset anyone - we're just trying to bring business back into the village."