A FUNDRAISER has been launched to save the future of the long-running Black Country Boating Festival.

The festival has taken place at the Bumble Hole Nature Reserve in Netherton for 35 years and attracts thousands of visitors and sees boaters from across the country display their barges.

The free event, run entirely by volunteers, also includes a floating market, a fun fair, real ale bar, live music and stalls and is a popular event in the Black Country events calendar.

But the future of the festival has been thrown into doubt as the impact of the covid crisis has decimated the team’s reserves.

Organisers need to have enough money in the bank before they can commit to planning the event for 2022, so are appealing to fans for their help.

Paddy Grice, one of the festival directors, said: “We desperately want next year to happen. It’s been going on for 35 years, we do believe that everybody wants it to happen, but we can’t fund it ourselves. If 10,000 people put in 50p then we would be covered.”

The festival returned in September after the pandemic cancelled the 2020 event, but it cost a lot more to put on due the increased costs of safety and social distancing measures.

Even though the festival could not go ahead in 2020, the team lost £3,000 that year as they still had bills to pay.

Paddy said: “We lost money just to stand still. We don’t get any funding from the council. To run the festival we need to have enough for the deposits before we set off.”

They are expecting next year’s event to cost more due to rising costs.

The team have set a target to raise £5,000, which will be enough to ensure the festival can return next year and are also on the lookout for any volunteers who would like to get involved.

Paddy added: “We really want to be back next year, it’s nice to have a sea of smiles in the community.”

To make a donation, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/black-country-boating-festival