The famous TT races, a marvel to everybody else but mere normality to us island natives. Fascination, global appeal and visitors have grown year on year but here’s the issue though, as the TT grows, the Isle of Man needs to grow with it and well I’m not sure it has.
Don’t get me wrong, the Grandstand and Bushy’s have upped their game in recent years and it has allowed the leathered up visitors and locals alike a site of refuge post races. However, all these things have one thing in common. They’re all in Douglas… the Capital, the Big Smoke. I know this is the obvious location for all these venues but what about the rest of the island?
Ramsey Town for instance, was once a hotspot during the TT fortnight, and even though the town can still seem busy, it’s more of a drive through than a stop off.
Mad Sunday in Parliament Sq was once a sight to behold. Revved up and bevved up, the thundering roar of a biker storm, waved on by a crowd of adoring p*sshead’s made it a coveted place to be.
The Swan & Central, iconic TT Public House’s, became a beacon of booze during Mad Sunday hours. Burnouts at the lights and you were instantly a crowd favourite as the onlookers gulped from their placcy glasses. Once the dust settled the march down the street began and a proper pub crawl would ensue. What a great place Ramsey was to be on the aptly named ‘Mad Sunday.’
Fast forward a couple of days and it was the turn of the famous Ramsey Sprint. Anybody could enter the Sprint to literally rev the sh*t out of their bike and lay down some rubber on a 1/8th of a mile strip of the North Prom, and it attracted all sorts mad b*stards.
It wasn’t just about the bikes though, it was the entire location. The Mooragh Park surrounded by bouncy castles as far as the eye can see. Kids riding a dinky-doughnut sugar-filled high that would inevitably result in an hangover rivalling those of their parents the following morning.
The Purple Helmets would always make an appearance and you’d probably suffer a brain freeze so bad that Mr. Freeze himself would be laughing his scarf off. Sunburnt skin the same tone as the synchronised Red Arrows above, it was Ramsey f**king Sprint day, man.
Both events live long in my memory of Ramsey during the TT.
As fond as those memories are, they’re fading away like the last remaining smoke stream that trails behind a Hawk T1 Red Arrow. Vacant skies comparable to the vacant hearts of residents who long to see those majestic rouge birds in flight over the Royal Ramsey sky once more.
The square is barren and the pubs aren’t busy anymore on Mad Sunday, it’s more of a subdued Sad Sunday and I can’t even remember the last time I visited to the Sprint where once I religiously attended.
Maybe Ramsey needs to move with the times and match the growth trajectory levels that this TT demand is craving. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
Well, as if just like that, Ramsey Town Commissioners have listened, observed, and with a rejuvenated approach taken this once well attended scutch of days and given it a new lease of life… and a name to affectionately call them.
Held in Market Place Square, draped in the inanimate shadow of the Nightlife, from Mad Sunday 2nd June through to Sprint Day Tuesday 4th June. Not one, but three nights of music to get your ear drums stuck into.
The main premise is to not only attract but to retain visitors and locals to the Northern capital again where they once flocked to. Somewhere a little different to the usual haunts that are pencilled into the standard TT Fortnight calendar. Appealing to the masses camping in the North but also those further afield. It’s for anyone and has the potential to be monumental.
The whole quayside will be closed to cars from the Swing Bridge through to the roundabout at Dale Street from 6pm until Midnight each night giving SprintFest almost free reigns feel with people passing in and out when they please.
The H&B sponsored bands will have the stage set (Mezeron Trailers) outside the St Paul’s Church end of the square performing music overlooking the harbour. As well as all this the local authority are trying to organise some late afternoon acoustic and traditional music around the courthouse in the street to add a chilled warm up to proceedings.
Music will conclude at 10.30pm each day giving all attendees plenty of time to get the last bus home or head on to a local hostelry to continue their night.
Sounds like a pretty good deal right? So what’s on offer?
As well as the existing eateries in the vicinity of the Square there will also be various food pop up outlets that will certainly meet the dietary needs and tastes of those at SprintFest.
The scheduled line up looks like this;
“Easy like Sunday Evening”
7pm – Southern State – brand new local band bringing country and western to the ears of the Isle of Man
9pm – The Tides – Ramsey’s very own
7pm – Boneyard – local rock cover band doing all the classics
9pm – A Little Bitta’ Rosie – popular local AC/DC cover band
7pm – Caution Runners – one of the finest Manx covers bands of the last decade coming out of cryogenic status to rock the market square.
9pm – Jesters Dead – the cheesiest covers available in the Isle of Man to finish off the fest.
RTC should take plaudits for taking a risk and identifying where the town must improve during the TT fortnight, and as expressed at the beginning it is needed for the good of the TT for the island, and Ramsey to move along with it.
For more updates on SprintFest please visit the facebook page.