YOU can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, so the saying goes.

And you put on a literary festival in a picture postcard Saddleworth village, but you can’t make people attend it if they’re either not interested or have more pressing things to do.

Our hearts go out the organisers of Saddleworth Literary Festival who lined up an array of renowned figures from the book publishing world to visit at the weekend.

Thousands lined the streets last Friday to watch Band of the Grenadier Guards march through Uppermill and give a concert, but the public delivered an emphatic snub to the festival organised to raise cash for Dr Kershaw’s Hospice. The event raised just £5.

Even the influence of well-known actor John Henshaw, who is patron of the hospice and was a supporter of the festival, could not draw in the numbers needed to make it a success.

While this is deeply disappointing and upsetting for the organisers and participants, it should be remembered that throughout the spring, summer and even autumn months, the events calendar in the Saddleworth area is choc-a-block.

It is therefore important for any organisation wanting to put on event such as this, that checks are made to avoid clashes with other potentially competing events.

And it may also be that a literary festival might’ve been a little bit high-brow, even for a cultured area like Saddleworth.

Perhaps combining a literary element with a general arts festival, including an eclectic mix of live music, real ale and children’s fun might be a way forward in future.

This is unlikely now that organisers have had their fingers burned in a most embarrassing way, and have now dropped the idea staging another.