FAMILIES have criticised the organisers of a Southend event for young children.

The Big Jam Sandwich event for children aged one to 11 at Garon Park on Sunday drew complaints for extra charges and lengthy queues.

Organisers Jam Sandwich Ltd defended the event but accepted there were “teething problems”.

The event involved a series of live acts on stage as well as other entertainment on offer at the venue.

Families claimed they paid more than £70 for tickets and then found extra charges inside.

Kate Wye, 42, from Southend, took her two children aged nine and two.

She said: “It was absolute chaos. Traffic was choc-a-block getting in there, and even when people had parked up they were queuing for ages just to get into the event. It was pretty much a glorified fun fair.

"There were rides and food stalls you would expect from a casual free event, but everything you had to pay extra for, apart from the inflatables they put in the middle of the field.

“Many families paid a lot of money for the event and so many were forced to leave early because they couldn’t do anything.”

Dad James Helsted, 37, said: “It was a total waste of money for a family ticket for us only to queue forever and get in to find you practically have to pay for everything inside.

“The stage had very poor lighting and poor screenings.”

Simon Harris, who blogs at Men Behaving Dadly on Facebook, described the event as "the Fyre Festival for Toddlers".

The Fyre Festival, meant to be held in 2017, was advertised as a luxury and exclusive music event on an island in the Bahamas, with tickets costing up to £75,000.

However, chaos ensued when guests arrived to find the site still under construction and tents in place of promised luxury accommodation.

A spokesman for Jam Sandwich Ltd said: “Our attractions we advertised were all present, our main attraction was the live shows on the stage which were absolutely great from start to finish.

“All our acts were fantastic, we’re sorry some people couldn’t see although we did have a viewing screen too to try and aid peoples view.

"The funfair was never advertised as part of the ticket price and this was chargeable, although no proceeds or pricing for the fun fair was part of big jam sandwich. The funfair is its own company.

“We will be looking into both traffic, location, field size and layout, plus more information and signs for customers.”