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From “clone towns” to “slow towns”: examining festival legacies

Michael B. Duignan (Coventry Business School, Coventry University, Coventry, UK)
Seth I. Kirby (Lord Ashcroft International Business School, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK)
Danny O’Brien (Faculty of Business, Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Sally Everett (Lord Ashcroft International Business School, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK)

Journal of Place Management and Development

ISSN: 1753-8335

Article publication date: 1 May 2018

Issue publication date: 14 August 2018



This paper aims to examine the role of grassroots (food) festivals for supporting the sustainability of micro and small producers, whilst exploring potential productive linkages between both stakeholders (festivals and producers) for enhancing a more authentic cultural offering and destination image in the visitor economy.


This paper is exploratory, qualitative and inductive. Evidence is underpinned by a purposive sample, drawing on ten in-depth interviews and 17 open-ended survey responses collected across 2014 and 2015 – drawing perspectives from traders participating in the EAT Cambridge festival.


This paper unpacks a series of serendipitous [as opposed to “strategic”] forms of festival and producer leveraging; strengthening B2C relationships and stimulating business to business networking and creative entrepreneurial collaborations. Positive emergent “embryonic” forms of event legacy are identified that support the longer-term sustainability of local producers and contribute towards an alternative idea of place and destination, more vibrant and authentic connectivity with localities and slower visitor experiences.


This study emphasises the importance of local bottom-up forms of “serendipitous leverage” for enhancing positive emergent “embryonic” legacies that advance “slow” tourism and local food agendas. In turn, this enhances the cultural offering and delivers longer-term sustainability for small local producers – particularly vital in the era of “Clone Town” threats and effects. The paper applies Chalip’s (2004) event leverage model to the empirical setting of EAT Cambridge and conceptually advances the framework by integrating “digital” forms of leverage.



Duignan, M.B., Kirby, S.I., O’Brien, D. and Everett, S. (2018), "From “clone towns” to “slow towns”: examining festival legacies", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 350-366.



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