Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Hope for Play on the Plains

- By Laura Green

Organisers hope to revive the Play on the Plains festival in 2023.

With ticket sales well below expectatio­ns this year, Play on the Plains Ltd general manager Vicky Lowry questioned the viability of the event into the future.

But this week she said the festival “has the merits of a really good event” and that the organisati­on would be applying for COVID recovery grants and other funding to put it on again.

“Hopefully, 12 months down the track, we won’t be two and a half weeks out of a public health order with people still being cautious, and we will see those sales go up,” she said.

It was hoped the Play on the Plains Festival, which only debuted last year, would become a complement­ary event to the Deni Ute Muster, bookending the summer festival season.

It caters to all music lovers but is specifical­ly targeted at the 18 to 25 year-olds, with headliners spanning indie, pop, modern rock and electronic genres.

The Deni Ute Muster is primarily tailored to country music fans.

In mid-March following the 2022 Play on the Plains event, Ms Lowry told the Pastoral Times the young festival’s future was in question because ticket sales were half of

what was considered a “viable” level.

Play on the Plains Ltd does not release ticket sales figures, but Ms Lowry did reveal the festival has suffered a $1.2 million loss.

This is on top of losses from the cancellati­on of the 2020 and 2021 Ute Muster events.

But a month on, she says the COVID-19 pandemic played a big role in driving sales down.

“It’s not that we’ve pushed it (Play on the Plains) away, we’ll still be working any way we can to make that event happen again.”

Her initial focus will be running the organisati­on’s original festival, the Deni Ute Muster, which started in the 1990s.

It will be held this NSW Labour Day weekend, on Friday, September 30 and Saturday, October 1.

“We’re full steam ahead getting back into what we haven’t had to do for two years, which is getting the Muster up and going again.

“It will be exciting with the headline act and artists that we have,” she said.

Brad Paisley is the headliner this year, with other acts including Jessica Mauboy, John Williamson, and The Angels.

Local or locally grown acts include Ruby Saltbush and Zara Lindeman, playing on the Day Stage.

“We predict that it will be as big as our last one in 2019, which attracted more than 25,000 people,” Ms Lowry said.

Reserved camping tickets where festival-goers pick their campsite have already sold out, but general camping admission is still available.

Play on the Plains Ltd has already secured $400,000 from a government grant to provide support through the pandemic and more than $350,000 to add accessible features to the festival site, and to put on additional, family-friendly shows.

The Deniliquin Festival Site will be upgraded with more accessibil­ity features over the next few months, including a wheelchair and ambulant accessible toilet, pathways between the campsites and the festival gate, and a viewing platform.

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