Blues Fest may move to Belongil

By Nerida Blok

THE East Coast Blues and Roots Festival is on the move again.

Yesterday venue manager for the popular annual five-day music event, Brendan Meek, confirmed organisers will be lodging a development application with Byron Shire Council to host next year's festival at Belongil Fields the site where last weekend's rock concert Splendour In the Grass was held.

Mr Meek said the impending move was due to the Blues Festival having outgrown the football grounds at Red Devil Park.

"We have parted ways with the footy club," Mr Meek said.

"We just outgrew the site. "Red Devil Park is 3.4 hectares and Belongil Fields is 10.5 hectares, so it's three times the size. At Red Devil Park last year we had 16,000 festival goers, whereas Belongil Fields has just held Splendour In The Grass with 17,500. So we'll have room for an extra 1,500."

It won't be the first time the Blues Fest has been held at Belongil. For its first three years, it was held on the grounds of the old Byron Bay piggery before moving to Belongil Fields for four years.

Red Devil Park has been its home for the past 10 years.

Mr Meek said the return to Belongil, however, would only be an interim measure.

"We have purchased land at Tyagarah (300 acres)," he said. "We plan to move there once we have all the boxes ticked and everyone is happy. We don't want to go there half done.

He said it would be great if that move could happen for the festival's 20th anniversary in 2009.

"That would be nice," he said. "Whether or not that happens, it's not the driving force. We'll move to that site when everyone is happy."

But what if the DA for Belongil is rejected?

"We don't think that will be the case. We've done our homework and had meetings with council."

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