We are asked regularly about our ticket and car park pricing. Here is a short note about our approach and costs.
Taunton Flower Show is a not for profit venture. Other than keeping emergency funds in the bank to cover an unexpected disaster, we spend everything we make in income at the show on running the show. The show is manned by hundreds of volunteers, without whom the show just would not exist as the economies of running it, if everyone working at the show (both before setting up and during the two days), were paid.
A couple of years ago we took over extra land previously unused by the show. We now use every square foot that is available to us to fill with 6 themed villages/areas, two massive marquees for competitions / professional horticulture, about 6 places where you can buy different kinds of cuisine, Craft products, music and seating... and on the list goes.
The Executive Board of the show chose a few years ago to orientate pricing towards allowing children in for free with families. We recognise that families are often stretched financially and our desire is to encourage families in the area to come and experience the show - both to engage the next generation in horticulure but also to value a superb, on-their-doorstep, community-spritited public event where every age can participate. Sadly we just cannot afford to discount ticket types for every age category. We would lower the ticket price if we were able.
Everyone agrees Vivary Park is a superb location for the show. However with it being in the centre of town it creates HUGE logistical challenges for our small team who set the show up each year. We have around 15,000 to 17,000 visitors each year, over the two days. We have to get these people into the park and back out safely, and provide enough resources to cope when they are on site. We have visitors of every age from 9 months to 90, which presents diverse needs.
The biggest challenge of them all is suitable and affordable car parking. We have to rent the places we park cars, we have to manage traffic flow into and out of the show - including the building and removal of a temporary metal road way - in a military fashion to stop gridlock across town. Last year we had a major challenge for our willing volunteers who steward the car parks, when the price required us to give out change.
Because we are expecting an even bumper crowd this year we just could not park anywhere near enough of those visitors in the land locked car park field we have access to. As a result we have put a lot of effort into developing the links with the Park and Ride system (over which we have no control) to bring people in from the edges of town - which is perfect for out of town visitors and at a price considerably lower than any in-town car park. Visitors can also cycle, walk and take local busses to get to us.
In an ideal world, we would love a showground that is twice the size, just as picturesque, where we could park everyone on site with no cost at all. But sadly, the car parking system that we have to run is a side effect of us having the region's most popular show of it's kind in a relatively small and highly inconvenient, but very beautiful, location.
We know that our faithful visitors are keen to help us in every way they can to keep the show the way it is - by making good travelling choices to help everyone, including locals who need to get around town not involved in the show, have a great couple of days visiting the show.
Taunton Flower Show is not a village hall event, it is a major regional annual landmark event drawing in people from all over the South West. We try and keep prices right down, compared to other family attractions of equal calibre.
We hope this statement goes someway to explaining why we have to charge what we do. Thank you for reading.