Big week­end ahead

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY DEAN LAW­SON

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.

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