Festival axe

THE Derwent Valley’s popular drawcard, the Autumn Festival, is unlikely to go ahead in April next year. Organisers are being tight-lipped about their plans, but in recent days the festival’s website has been removed.

A meeting was held last week with organisers and members of the community who wanted to help ensure the festival was held after two years of Covid cancellations.

Committee member Lisa Clarke said a further meeting would be held next year to discuss the future of the festival, which if held would be its 20th anniversary. Ms Clarke said the only decision the committee had made was “not to have the standard event in 2023’’.

Glen Derwent owner Liz Virtue, who attended the meeting last Tuesday, said she was disappointed but tourism organisations, like her own, would continue to work to find an alternative for next year. Ms Virtue said Destinations Southern Tasmania and local tourism body Derwent Valley Tasmania would discuss how a collaborative event could be held. “As a tourism operator I’m really disappointed but we will continue to work towards an alternative,’’ Ms Virtue said.

She believed a series of “satellite events’’ could be held throughout the Derwent Valley in autumn to attract visitors. “There will be something, but not a festival. “We could get a range of people involved and adapt. “There is no reason tourism operators can’t get together.’’ Former councillor and new owner of the Gretna Hotel, Natasha Wood attended the meeting also. “I want to acknowledge the passion and drive of the committee over the years,’’ Ms Wood said.

“Covid changed things and we have lost momentum. “They attempted to restart, they are tired and need more committee people to engage and help. “I don’t want to see another year without a festival. “People are ready to engage in events again. We could have a pared-back version of the event to ensure we don’t lose all momentum.

“Three years and people will forget about the event and we don’t want to lose the goodwill that is out there. “I’m happy to support it, it would be remise to say it’s not happening.’’

One consideration is to have satellite events – a range of local businesses hosting autumn events on the same weekend – which would mean the need for stand-alone insurance would be avoided as individual businesses could use their existing insurance.

Mayor Michelle Dracoulis said the commitment and dedication shown by the committee was to be commended. “We are all aware that in recent years events have become more and more difficult to deliver with the arrival of Covid-19 and an increasing focus on managing risks,’’ Mrs Dracoulis said.

“As the council moves further into developing our 10-year strategic plan we can consider what events best cater for our wonderful community, not only in autumn, but all year round and who is best to deliver them into the future.”