Valley festival back on agenda

THE Derwent Valley Autumn Festival will be held on Sunday April 23 after being saved by businesses and community groups. After the previous committee – which ran the festival for the past 20 years – cancelled the event for a third time and disbanded its committee last December, a coalition of tourism identities and groups and service clubs have banded together to save the event.

Glen Derwent Estate owner Liz Virtue has spearheaded negotiations and has secured the Derwent Valley Rotary Club to event manage the festival which means the club’s public liability insurance – often a stumbling block for hosting events – will be available.

Lions Club of New Norfolk, the New Norfolk Football Club and Derwent Valley Tasmania Tourism have also thrown their support into help the event which has in the past attracted between 10,000 and 15,000 locals and visitors to The Esplanade event each year. Festival organisers are now seeking financial and in kind support from the Derwent Valley Council.

In its submission to council, organisers said they had also approached Norske Skog, Hydro and Taswater as major Derwent Valley stakeholders for sponsorship.

Lions president Kerry Kievit said club members had unanimously expressed support for the continuation of the Derwent Valley Autumn Festival as it had long been an excellent fundraising opportunity for the club.

“Our Autumn Festival chocolate wheel raised about $3,000 each year to contribute to local, Tasmanian and Lions causes and charities,’’ Ms Kievit said in a letter to council in support of sponsorship. “We would very much appreciate the opportunity to continue this important fundraising for our club and our community. “We support and appreciate the efforts of Liz Virtue and the Derwent Valley Rotary Club in continuing this important community event.’’

In a separate letter of support, NNDFC president Steve Balmforth congratulated organisers behind the revival of the festival. “As president of the New Norfolk Football Club we have already discussed the ‘lost opportunities’ with the cancellation of previous festivals and the involvement the club had with those events,’’ Mr Balmforth said.

“The involvement as well as being an opportunity to raise some much needed funds for the club, was an integral part of ensuring community involvement and support for football in the Valley. “On behalf of the NNDFC, we would be active participants in the proposed Derwent Valley Autumn Festival, be it volunteering assistance, or running bar and barbecue.’’

Ms Virtue said there was strong support from tourism operators for renewal of the festival with a focus on Derwent Valley producers, services and offerings