The popular free event, held with the help of the Military Vehicle Trust, was due to be held at Wicksteed Park on June 11 and 12 with up to 20,000 visitors set to enjoy battle re-enactments and military vehicles.
Park bosses announced the cancellation on Saturday (May 7) because it would be ‘insensitive’ to hold it in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has left thousands dead.
But after announcing the move the park was inundated with hundreds of Facebook comments saying it was the wrong decision. Many said the event educated people about the horrors of war and should be held to raise money for Ukraine. Others were confused as previous conflicts have not led to the show’s cancellation.
One social media post said: “I have never heard anything so ridiculous. We have refugees from all over, we have our own military and others with PTSD - they are all capable of deciding for themselves what they are comfortable with and have been for many years. Why do you think the Ukrainians who know we support them are any different?”
Another said: “This is a bad decision, could've used the event to fundraise for Ukraine but now everyone loses out because of some fears of possibly upsetting some people who if you actually asked them I dare say wouldn't want it cancelled on their behalf.”
Another Facebook user said: “Their [sic] is war somewhere in the world every single day yet now you choose to cancel a hugely popular family event. Instead you could have changed the name and removed the word war and then donated some of the profits to Ukraine! Whoever made this decision needs to give their head a wobble.”
And a fourth said: “Unbelievable. There’s atrocities all over the world that are less publicised. It’s about history.”
Some military events elsewhere in the country have also been cancelled because of the conflict, but Harborough at War in nearby Market Harborough and a huge Yorkshire Wartime Experience weekend near Bradford are still going ahead in August.
Wicksteed Park’s head of sales and marketing, Rachel James, said: “We are all very disappointed as we know how much people look forward to Wicksteed at War.
“It was felt that it would be incredibly insensitive to hold a family fun event based on wartime memories, military vehicles and battle re-enactments at a time when the news coming out of Ukraine on a daily basis is shocking the world.
“We also have to be mindful of any Ukrainian refugees who might be welcomed into our area, and the effect on them of seeing people in military uniform and vehicles congregating at the park.
“We would like to thank the Military Vehicle Trust and show director Tim Hawkes and his team for all the effort they have put into planning, not just for this year’s event but the incredibly successful events held in previous years.”
Show director Tim Hawkes said: “We are very disappointed that this year’s event is not going ahead but completely understand why the trustees have taken this decision.”