Big weekend ahead
Adevelopment leader has urged communities across the region to get behind and make the most of a big weekend of events across the Wimmera, Mallee and Grampians.
Wimmera Development Association executive director Ralph Kenyon said an expected major influx of holiday visitors was an opportunity to ‘sell’ the region.
He said the region’s heavy scheduling of Labour Day weekend festivals, events and attractions was important financially and economically as well as socially.
“There is no doubt that events, in particular those that attract people from outside the region, are of high value and positively influence economic circumstances,” he said.
“The beauty of what we’re seeing is that there is such a variety of events – from Ararat to the border – that will each attract different types of people.
“Our overall message for everyone is to, in some way, strongly support these activities.
“There is a lot of effort being put in by community groups and volunteers to make us attractive to not only the locals but also the broader Victorian and interstate community.”
Major events across the region include a massive electronic-music Pitch festival at Mafeking south of Ararat, fishing competition, car and bike show, amateur motocross titles and an historic greyhound cup meeting in Horsham and a Wheels for Wirraway festival and major golf tournament at Nhill.
There is also a celebration concert at Harrow’s Johnny Mullagh Park, marking the 150th anniversary of an Australian indigenous cricket tour of England, an Edenhope Cup race meeting and a 1980s concert in Stawell.
There is even sheepdog trials at Patchwollock, where visitors using the long weekend to tour the Silo Art Trail through Yarriambiack Shire might find themselves.
An unofficial launch of weekend activities for many is the Wimmera Machinery Field Days at Longerenong, north of Horsham.
Mr Kenyon said any event involving visitors, participants or contestants brought value to the region through accommodation, food and general hospitality industries. “There is also simple entertainment value. There are so many advantages to having such events,” he said.
“What we need to do is build on the success of these events, which means working to increase numbers of attendees at existing events or considering what else we could run.
“These events all add up, provide opportunities for locals and in some cases casual employment. Events shouldn’t be seen to be competing against each other – instead adding to an overall critical mass. People are naturally drawn to attractions in which they are interested anyway.
“Importantly, they raise the profile of the whole area and these days there are more ways then ever to promote activities to a broad audience.”
In summing up, Mr Kenyon stressed that people providing services across the region needed to keep ‘good customer service’ at front of mind.
“Despite what some might think, we are part of a visitor economy and good customer service will play a key role in encouraging people to return,” he said.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy echoed Mr Kenyon’s sentiments, adding the variety of events reflected a willingness by people to give up their time to plan and develop events for their communities.
“What it also tells us is that regional and rural communities are fully aware of the importance of attracting people, activity and business to their towns,” she said.