Olympic party to cheer on golden girl Jess

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SHEFFIELD is to stage a big “Olympic party” in the East End over a weekend in August that will coincide with Jessica Ennis’s attempt to win gold.

Plans are being drawn up for giant screens in the Don Valley Stadium to watch the action from the London Games, while a “Tramlines-style” music festival will be held in the Don Valley Bowl.

Other events will take place in the English Institute of Sport and iceSheffield, and there will be a funfair, food stalls and a craft market between the sports centres.

“It will be one big Olympic party,” said Steve Brailey, chief executive of Sheffield International Venues, which runs the facilities.

Details of the fan festival were announced as some councillors were urging the city to do more to take advantage of the interest in the London Games, and the visitors they will attract to the country, including examining the possibility of screens in the city centre.

Sheffield’s celebrations will be concentrated on the weekend of August 3 to 5 when local hero Jessica Ennis will be competing in the heptathlon.

Her events, along with all the other action, will be shown on big screens at Don Valley Stadium, which will be open throughout the day and into the night. Admission will be free.

The only activity to be charged for over the weekend is the music festival being planned for the Don Valley Bowl on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Talks are being held with the promoters of the Tramlines Festival with a view to them running the event, which is likely to feature local and national bands.

It is not a replacement for Tramlines, which will follow the now established successful format of free performances across the city centre, and is being held this year from July 20 to 23. Last year’s festival, the third, attracted crowds of more than 150,000 over the weekend.

Organisers of the fan festival are aiming to combine the appeal of the Olympics with Sheffield’s reputation as a City of Sport, looking to add a local flavour to national celebrations.

Other activities are being lined up. For example, it is hoped to encourage local companies to organise sports events that can be part of the weekend. There could be a competition to find the fittest firm in Sheffield.

“We are still developing ideas, but we hope families will watch the big screens and celebrate the medals of our own athletes, and we hope they will spend the whole day in the area,” said Mr Brailey.

“It will give the people of Sheffield who were not able to get tickets for the Olympics the chance to join in.

“It is going to be a fantastic party for Sheffield over the peak weekend of the Olympics, for families and for all age groups. I think the momentum between now and the Olympics will be tremendous.

“I don’t think we’ll have experienced anything like it in the UK.”

USA divers, Brazilian judo players and a raft of Serbian Olympic teams have chosen Sheffield for their training base in the run-up to the Games.