Crowds Set New Record on Maes; Organisers Are Delighted as Thousands Flock to Event
Byline: ERYL CRUMP
THOUSANDS of people flocked to the National Eisteddfod at the weekend to the delight of organisers and civic leaders.
Yesterday attendance of 25,097 was the best ever Sunday attendance and followed 17,838 people who passed through the gates of a former steelworks site at Ebbw Vale on Saturday and Friday evening's opening concert.
While the crowds were able to enjoy the competitions in the main pavilion most took advantage of other activities in the half-mile long Maes ranging from tours of the steelworks General Offices, cookery demonstrations, street performances to volleyball played on a specially created beach.
Eisteddfod chief executive Elfed Roberts said the week-long event must keep up with the times if it is to survive and efforts are being made to develop it into a family oriented festival as well asWales' premier cultural competitive event.
"The traditional crowning and chairing of the bard ceremonies will be the highlight but there is also literature, poetry, music, dance and sport to keep visitors occupied.
Crowds queue to "But the Eisteddfod has undergone a major revamp and embraced new technology with updates on social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter as well as a mobile phone app available," he said.
Mr Roberts hopes 150,000 people will file through the gates before the Eisteddfod ends next Saturday and is confident that can be achieved.
"We've made a good start. Thanks to Welsh Assembly support we were able to offer free tickets today and distributed more than 20,000 with 85% going to people in Blaenau Gwent.
"I have spoken to many of them as they arrived and they are happy to be here. Many of them have never been to the Eisteddfod, indeed some of them had never been to this site despite living in the Ebbw Vale area.
"I have spoken to people who worked here and are amazed at the transformation and never thought the Eisteddfod would be staged here," he said.
Mr Roberts added many of those who applied for tickets do not speak Welsh.
"If you don't speak Welsh you can still come here. …