The Stone Traders’ Group has also proposed a charitable music festival in late May 2023 as part of its event ideas for 2023 and has called on the town council for support.
The town council is already looking ahead to Stone’s event calendar for 2023 and proposals were discussed at a meeting on Tuesday. These include the council staging its annual music festival in early May to coincide with the coronation of King Charles III.
On Tuesday town councillors supported a number of the ideas put forward in a joint proposal from the traders’ group and Stone Food and Drink Festival – but said they would require further discussion to avoid competing with existing establishments and events. And there were concerns that the timing of the traders’ proposed musical event would be “very close” to the council’s own festival.
The Stone Traders’ Group and Stone Food and Drink Festival said: “We all want Stone town centre to thrive. The modern high street is changing and Stone’s unique blend of independent shops, bars and restaurants, together with more well-known businesses, all need protecting and helping to ensure Stone remains a great place to live and to visit.
“The High Street is the heartbeat of Stone, which is why Stone Traders’ Group and Stone Food and Drink Festival were born. We are prepared to work harder than ever to keep Stone town centre what it is, but we need support from Stone Town Council and Stafford Borough Council.
“To measure the public’s appetite for these events we carried out a town centre questionnaire at the recent food and drink festival, by tick box on paper, scanning a QR code on site and completing online via our Facebook page 'Stone is where the Heart is'. The overwhelming feedback from the 340 respondents was they wanted more events; themed events, music events and more use of Market Square.”
The groups have suggested monthly Thursday street food events from April to October. And a “Sunday Series” would offer a monthly weekend event between March and December, such as Christmas and German markets, cheese and ale and vehicle displays.
The groups said: “Choosing Sundays has no impact on any Stone Town Council markets or events, it’s a popular day where many have free time and businesses have a choice to open or not. Business feedback say some events on Saturday’s help trade but others do not, so there may be an opportunity to get another valuable day’s trading with many people in the town on an additional day.”
The town council’s response to the proposals was also presented on Tuesday. It stated: “The proposal to run Christmas and German markets is supported as it is considered to be successful elsewhere, has had some previous success in Stone and can complement the farmers’ market
“Any proposal to introduce a second monthly food-related market between February and October must be considered carefully as to its impact on the established farmers’ market. Any new market must successfully differentiate its products and/or reach a different consumer demographic, so as not to dilute or weaken the farmers’ market.
“The street food events have in the past proved successful in binging increased footfall to the town centre. The proposal is to hold them more frequently and the council supports this, but must confirm through its officers that the current town centre eating establishments are supportive of the increased event frequency.
“The council runs a number of free attendance events during the year, usually on weekends when markets are not taking place. The council is open to Stone Traders’ Group proposing additional weekend events – Saturday or Sunday – which can be considered on an individual basis, based on the planned calendar, in order to ensure a fuller programme and further promotion of the town centre as a destination.
“The events should be free attendance/non-food related events to avoid dilution of the Saturday markets and street food. This acknowledges that disposable incomes are finite and that established events should not be damaged.”
Council and traders’ group representatives are due to meet to discuss the proposals further. Councillors also accepted an invitation to attend the traders’ group director’s meeting, which is held every four to six weeks.
Speaking after the meeting Ed Stant, the traders’ group secretary, said: “The group is delighted Stone Town Council are considering our proposals for 2023. We hope we can arrange some fantastic events to fill the High Street calendar.”