THE huge fireworks and bonfire event on Knavesmire has been described as an ‘utter fiasco’ by one of thousands of unhappy people who attended the event.

Rat Race Adventure, organisers of The Gunpowder Plod event, which included a 5K run, have apologised and agreed to donate £5000 to a local charity after visitors complained of two hour-long queues at food stalls, a delay of an hour for the start of the fireworks display and a bonfire which had burnt out before many had arrived.

Holly House, of Appleton Roebuck, was one of many people who contacted The Press today to voice their anger. She said she paid £65 for four adults and two young children but had to leave before the fireworks began - describing the night as an “amateurish fiasco”.

She said: “The Rat Race website promised a lot and in reality delivered little, except presumably huge profits for the organisers who had clearly oversold the event way beyond its capacity and facilities they had available.”

Jim Mee, founder of Rat Race Adventure Sports said: “Our priority for an event of this scale is that all visitors are kept safe at all times whilst enjoying the festivities.

"The firework display was delayed for this precise reason as members of the public had entered restricted areas and through the work of our stewards and the assistance of the Police, these areas were eventually cleared.

“We are deeply disappointed that there were delays with the run and firework display and that a number of families with young children decided to leave before the display started. As a knock on effect of the firework delay people took the opportunity to grab a bite to eat which then led to even further queuing at the catering outlets.”

He said lessons had been learned for the future and pledged £5000, the takings from children’s ticket sales, to the York-based William Rhodes Foundation as a gesture of goodwill.

Runner Helen Hutchinson, 34, of Cawood, who has run in Jane Tomlinson and other races said: “It was poorly organised and it wasn’t the event that was advertised.”

She is seeking a refund for the £20 she paid for the run and fireworks: “If you pay £20 to take part, it should be a professional, well organised event. It was a lot of money. There is no excuse for such a poorly managed event.”

Others who have contacted The Press have told of queues so long for the toilets that people gave up and relieved themselves elsewhere, a lack of ticket checks at the entrance, no stewards supervising cars as they left the parking area at the end, parking areas that were quagmires and cars having to do three-point turns surrounded by pedestrians because an access gate to Knavesmire were locked.

Editor’s Note: Our print deadlines and the hour-long delay caused by people running on to Knavesmire meant that our earlier reports of this event did not cover the criticism that has since emerged. We have now spoken to the organisers who have apologised for the problems that occurred.