Farmers in Co. Laois have expressed their opposition to the new dates for Electric Picnic, stating that it will have a negative impact on their 2024 harvest. The three-day music and arts festival has been held on a site in Stradbally in early September for the past 19 years. However, the festival organizers recently announced that next year’s event will take place from August 16-18, which is two weeks earlier than its usual September slot.
This decision came as a surprise to local tillage farmers who claim they were not consulted prior to the announcement or the sale of tickets. Bobby Miller, a farmer in Stradbally, stated that local farmers have always supported the music festival, which is expected to attract up to 70,000 people to the area when this year’s event kicks off on Friday, September 1. He expressed concern that moving the 2024 festival forward by a fortnight will clash with “prime harvest time”. Miller explained that local tillage farmers are worried about not being able to harvest their crops or safely transport large agricultural machinery on the roads. He also mentioned that the grain intake store in the village, which receives the majority of malting barley in the area for Boortmalt, would be extremely busy around harvest time.
Another farmer, Paul Cushen, who farms land around Stradbally and resides on the main street of the village, described the decision to move Electric Picnic forward in the calendar as “a logistic nightmare” for farmers. He stated, “Nobody heard anything about it until last Tuesday morning. We appreciate the festival for the area, it’s good for the area. But it is an inconvenience, even at the time of the year that it’s at, but we’re putting up with it. We simply cannot tolerate it in the middle of our harvest. We spend money and time all year growing our crops for the most important time of the year.”
Cushen further explained that the main street of Stradbally would be “extremely busy with loads of grain every day of the harvest.” He also expressed concerns about festival traffic on the road adjacent to his field, stating, “The festival traffic coming in the road is so slow, they all get out and you see people urinating. What are the chances of someone throwing a cigarette butt and my field of barley catching fire? And it’s not just a possibility on that road because this area is a huge malting barley growing area and there will be fields of barley everywhere. It’s pure craziness, that’s what it is.”
The farmers are planning to raise their concerns with local gardaí and county councillors in the hopes of having the festival dates changed. Cushen stated, “I’m hoping that when sense prevails, they realize it’s just not possible to happen. We’ve put up with the picnic for all these years and we don’t mind the inconvenience for a few days. But this is just the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
Agriland has reached out to Electric Picnic for comment on the matter.