As a personal comment (and from someone who doesn't drink alcohol) the less that is sold the better, especially in a 'family and children' area such as Blackmore Gardens. Alcohol is maybe something that people are scaling back on in these lean times and (as a general health comment) it would do them no harm to reduce consumption on a permanent basis. This applies particularly to many young people, some of whom suffer liver problems at ages 25 to 30. I'd be happy to see Blackmore Gardens made alcohol free - rather than encouraging consumption merely to bring in a little more money.
The weather was almost ideal for dancing - not hot enough to make people head to the beaches in large numbers.
For serious dancers, the worst aspect of Blackmore Gardens was the appalling floor - covered in staples (all of which should have been removed before dancers started to complain), with various patches (tolerable if unwelcome) and worst of all the awful surface with no slip to it at all. It is a step forward (pardon the pun) for such a large venue to be used for so many social dance workshops but the floor produced dozens of complaints from fellow social and ceilidh dancers who (like me) started to suffer knee problems after a day or two. It was simply not suitable for purpose.
If Sidmouth was a short weekend festival then dancers could tolerate a few dances on such a floor and without injury, but for a week it simply needs to be better quality with a far superior (more shiny) surface and preferably without most of the other imperfections. I've never been to Whitby but one group of dancers told me I should try it as an alternative dance week to Sidmouth: referring to the Blackmore Gardens floor they simply remarked "We don't have rubbish floors like that". Towersey is only a week-end festival yet it often manages to have very good floors.
In contrast, the floor at the new Stowford Rise venue was fantastic. For serious dancers the floor is all important - this is something that maybe the organisers fail to understand. Many people (including me) went home variously injured from spending hours dancing on the Blackmore Gardens floor. Such an experience is hardly likely to encourage people to return. And (despite the fact that the festival organisers may deeply disapprove of the process) we do talk to each other.
There were many other problems (often easily fixable) but it is disappointing that they occur year after year despite being well reported.
As for sponsorship, I don't know what are the cash amounts involved in Platinum/Silver etc levels and how they compare with the net profits made by the various venues and car parks. Only if such figures were made freely available would it be possible to analyse in any detail the extent to which various venues were a net asset to the festival.