Rivafest: Ballina’s only major festival Rivafest attracted 10,000 people last year but council has refused to fund it again, claiming the $80,000 cost was to much to bear.
Rivafest: Ballina’s only major festival Rivafest attracted 10,000 people last year but council has refused to fund it again, claiming the $80,000 cost was to much to bear. Doug Eaton

Council dumps costly Rivafest

BALLINA’S only major festival has been scrapped.

Rivafest attracted more than 10,000 people last year, but Ballina Shire Council yesterday decided it would no longer run the popular event.

The majority of councillors said they could not justify spending the required $80,000.

Instead, they want someone else to run it.

Cr Peter Moore said there was ‘no doubt’ Rivafest brought the community together.

“But festivals come and go; they morph and change,” he said.

Cr Alan Brown said there should not be an expectation that the council would foot the bill for Rivafest.

“I don’t support this council continuing to pour money into it,” he said.

In an effort to stop Rivafest being cancelled, Cr Sharon Cadwallader wanted the council to hold a meeting with interested parties.

But her idea was rejected.

“Where is the community spirit? We need good community events,” she said.

“It’s a sad day that we are going to wipe our hands of it.”

Mayor Phillip Silver said running Rivafest was ‘fiscally difficult’.

“Just because we did Rivafest last year and the year before doesn’t mean we have to do it again,” he said.

But Cr Sue Meehan said Rivafest was ‘very highly regarded’ and that she didn’t want Ballina to be seen as ‘Byron Bay’s boring brother’.

Ballina Chamber of Commerce executive officer, Nadia Eliott-Burgess, said they would now hold a meeting with Rivafest stakeholders in a bid to save the festival.

“But we, as an organisation, don’t have the resources to co-ordinate the actual event itself,” she said.

“What’s disappointing is that the council made the decision just to pull out cold. This was our signature event.

“We understand why council has made this decision; we just think it should have been done in a staged process.

“But it’s now only seven months before the event.”

However Ballina Tourism and Hospitality secretary, Dave Heggie, said the cancellation of Rivafest could lead to new opportunities.

“It is sad we are losing our one and only festival,” he said.

“But there’s now a chance to think about something that would bring new people here.

“Rivafest was really something that was just for locals.

“We should raise Ballina’s profile, because tourism is worth $104 million to our shire.”



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