Beef Week rescue package rejected
By HELEN JACK
CASINO Beef Week is defunct, and prominent local identities are being drawn into a slanging match over what went wrong with one of the Northern Rivers' signature events and whether it can be resurrected.
The Northern Star has decided to campaign to try to save Beef Week.
We will focus on developing public interest stories leading up to a public meeting on April 16 to find ways to resurrect the celebration of all things bovine.
And it's not only Beef Week in trouble. From Tweed's Banana Festival to Ballina's Rivafest to several rural shows, there's a battle on to find enough money, volunteers and support to keep alive the events which have been part of this region since we were children. Most are run by community volunteer committees who are overworked and worn out.
The big question? Should they remain community events? Or should they be organised more like busi- nesses with a focus on making a profit.
Lismore MP Thomas George is one who wants Beef Week to remain in community hands.
Mr George seems bewildered by the committee's refusal to accept a rescue package he and other business people put together.
Another of the architects of the rescue package Casino RSM's Kenny Woodhams said they'd put together a cut down version of Beef Week. It included sponsorship promises of up to $30,000 and 40 willing volunteers.
"It was the committee's call," said Mr Woodhams.
Beef Week committee President, Mr Terry Serone said the committee rejected the package because it gave no firm costings.
"And most of the things in the package would not make money.
Richmond Valley Council's events cultural liaison officer Peter Byrne thinks it's vital to revamp Beef Week.
"There is a lot of community value in the event.
"But it's like any business," he said.
"Beef Week turns over more than some companies in Casino do in a year so there needs to be a business approach to the event; there's also an issue of sustainability.
"Many festivals which started in the 70s and 80s are considered by the community to be stagnant."
Mr Byrne said the key was giv- ing the community a strong sense of ownership of Beef Week. Mr Serone said the committee and council representatives met on Friday to discuss further options.
"Council has told us to do things. They have to abide by regulations so their hands are tied to a certain degree but they have come up with more options," he said."
Results of that meeting will be reported in Wednesday's Northern Star.