Ballina Beats keeps the promoters on their toes
By MARY MANN
BALLINA'S Beats on the Beach music festival promoters Sam Speaight and Chris Mitchell have sacrificed sleep to make sure everything is ready for the big day.
They expect about 6500 people to converge on Kingsford Smith Park, at Ballina, for the New Year's Day concert on Monday.
About 3000 tickets have been pre-sold and organisers are hoping for a big rush on sales from metropolitan areas in the lead-up to the inaugural event.
"It's going to be an awesome gig," Mr Speaight, from Sydneybased Audiotrade, said.
"I'm itching with anticipation."
The festival will include about 40 acts over three stages, including Pete Murray.
And music lovers might be in for an extra treat with organisers hinting at a surprise act from an unidentified Brisbane artist.
"We've been so busy preparing we've been doing 48-hour shifts," Mr Speaight said.
"It's all very exciting."
Disagreement earlier this month with residents in the vicinity of the park over the finishing time for the event isn't expected to hinder the success of the concert.
Organisers were left with the fear of thousands of young people descending on the town looking to party on when the 9pm council curfew was put in place earlier this month, in response to a police recommendation.
Byron mayor Jan Barham was also concerned, saying the times set for the event ? 10am to 9pm ? left 'big gaps' the night before and afterwards when young revellers might be tempted to go to Byron Bay.
In response to such concerns Beats on the Beach organisers have 'donated' two security guards to be used in Byron Bay on New Year's Eve.
"Even though we don't think the event will pose a problem for Byron Bay, we've got the security guards for Byron because it's about keeping people happy," Mr Mitchell, from Melbourne-based Fractured, said.
Mr Speaight said the aim was to put on a trouble-free event.
"So if the police say a 9pm curfew is the best way to avoid trouble, that's the way we'll go."
There will be a large police presence at the event, including officers paid for by the organisers and possibly NSW's only 'drug bus', which enables police to test for cannabis and amphetamines.
Mr Speaight said Ballina police had been extremely supportive and that he trusted police 'wouldn't do anything to put the festival at risk or set the next year's festival back'.