Festival brings financial harvest
IN YEARS gone by, Lismore's shops were closed for the New Year's long weekend and the CBD became a ghost town, but many businesses chose to stay open last weekend and reaped the rewards.
Some 5500 people attended Lismore's Tropical Fruits New Year's Eve Festival and pumped big dollars into the local economy.
The Mecca Cafe stayed open and owner Todd McLean said even though he paid penalty rates to employees, he "definitely came out on top". However, Mr McLean also said sales were slightly down overall compared to the previous New Year's long weekend.
Goanna Bakery & Cafe also recorded a slight dip in sales this long weekend.
"We were the first to stay open on New Year's Day," Goanna Bakery & Cafe owner Geoff Haycraft said.
"(We don't get) quite as much business as we used to because now there are more cafes open on the public holidays."
In 2009 and 2010, Tropical Fruits event organiser Shane Duniam received an avalanche of complaints from festival-goers as a result of the closures. He urged businesses to remain open this time around and was glad many did.
"On Saturday you couldn't get a park anywhere in town because there were lots of pink dollars floating around," he said.
The big winners last weekend were accommodation centres such as hotels and motels. The owner of Dawson Motor Inn, Peter Gerstenberg, said his motel was completely booked out by festival-goers for the entire weekend.
"We had 50 in-house guests," he said. "Absolutely every guest that has checked out has booked in again for next year."
Accommodation in Lismore is notoriously hard to find on the New Year's weekend and festival-goers had a Facebook page to help other attendees confirm a place to stay.
"There's not enough accommodation in Lismore," Mr Duniam said. "All the accommodation houses in Lismore were full."
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said in 2010 many festival-goers camped and were rained-out, potentially leading them to demand more reliable shelter in 2011.
While businesses incur extra costs for staying open on public holidays, Ms Dowell said it was still "in their best interest".