Community drives village festival
The Great Western community has joined forces to attract people to the town for the Australia Day long weekend as part of a longer-term strategy to ensure the historic wine village’s prosperity.
Great Western Racing and Recreation Reserve committee member Wendy Cairns said the community had responded to a call to action, in spades.
“With the Friday public holiday and our race day on the Sunday I saw an opportunity to try to do something to get people to stay in the town for the long weekend,” she said.
“I asked the community if we could get something together for the Saturday and had a wonderful response.
“Community and business members have joined forces to create a one-stop shop for the three days.”
A new Under the Pines – Music Festival on January 26 will kick off a range of events planned for the weekend, which also features the annual Seppelt Great Western Cup on the Sunday.
“The festival will be set under the cover of pine trees at our beautiful recreation reserve,” Mrs Cairns said.
“We’re hoping to continue it for another two years after this one, but of course it all depends on how this first one goes.”
The festival will feature three acts, Orange Whip, Plastered and Jimmy Cupples, from 4pm to 10.15pm.
Mrs Cairns said the weekend had generated a significant amount of excitement within the community and would provide a great boost for businesses.
“So far the response from prospective patrons has been super good,” she said.
“We’ve got a lot of people interested in free camping at the recreation reserve. We’ve got campers booked in already.
“Accommodation in the area is starting to book out. The weekend is looking very promising.”
Mrs Cairns encouraged Wimmera residents and visitors to make the most of the activities and atmosphere on offer.
“Everyone is doing something. There will be a show and shine in the main street on Saturday morning, along with a street party that will feature a festive atmosphere complete with buskers and places to eat and shop,” she said.
“Seppelt is hosting a free open-air cinema on the Saturday night, along with a ‘dine deep’ experience in the winery’s underground cellars.”
Mrs Cairns said the weekend would also feature a market, art exhibition, live music and deals from the region’s wineries.
She said a free hop on, hop off bus would complete circuits of the town on the Saturday.
“It will include stops at Best’s, Grampians Estate and Seppelt wineries along with the main street and the recreation reserve,” she said.
“That way people will be able to experience a bit of everything without having to worry about driving anywhere.”
The recreation reserve committee and Great Western Racing Club have each provided funding of $5000 for the weekend.
Northern Grampians Shire Council has supported the project through a $2500 community grant.
Mrs Cairns said the Great Western Future Committee also supported the weekend.
The committee is working off an official council plan, which stemmed from a need for residents to prepare for a future Western Highway bypass of the town.
“Initially with the long weekend plans we wanted to build numbers for our race day, but our overall aim is to remind people that Great Western can be a great holiday destination,” Mrs Cairns said.
“We’ve been boosting our camping infrastructure at the racecourse reserve for several years.
“It’s a great place for a stopover. People often come and camp and spend a day in the Grampians and a day touring the wineries.
“We’re trying to build up the town for when the bypass happens and to make sure we get noticed.”
People can search www.under-thepines-greatwestern.com for more information about the music festival.