PIER GROUPS: Michael Dean, from Ballina Alive Inc, thinks that the forming of two festivals will be good for Ballina. The Alive
PIER GROUPS: Michael Dean, from Ballina Alive Inc, thinks that the forming of two festivals will be good for Ballina. The Alive

Rivafest comes to the parting of the waters

By Graham Broadhead

THERE has been a split among the organisers of Ballina's annual festival, Rivafest.

It means there will be two separate events in town, a week apart from each other, in November.

The volunteer group, Ballina Alive Inc, has parted company with the Ballina Shire Council-organised Rivafest and will, if it can raise $75,000 by the end of August, hold the Ballina Water Spectacular, featuring water-based activities, on November 11.

Rivafest will go ahead on%November 18 with land-based activities in Fawcett Park.

President of Ballina Alive Inc, Mike Dean, and council's acting general manager Steve Barnier, both said the separation mutually agreed and amicable was made because of the logistics of combining the land and water programs of Rivafest.

But there are ripples of discontent coming from the not-for-profit Ballina Alive Inc camp, with Mr Dean saying there was some disappointment in the outcome.

Ballina Alive Inc, set up five years ago, teamed up with council in 2004 to organise the first Rivafest after the volunteers struggled to keep their Ballina Alive festival afloat due to rising insurance costs.

Mr Dean said working with council bureaucracy over the past two years had become frustrating and cumbersome for the volunteers who were giving up time from their workplaces to fit in with council-organised meetings.

He said the decision-making process was slow because the council had to follow its rules, contrasting the ability of the smaller Ballina Alive group to make decisions quickly.

"We combined to take advantage of their (council's) insurance," he said. In February the council cut the weekend festival to a one-day event.



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