Gympie Gold Rush parade
Gympie Gold Rush parade LEEROY TODD

Gold Rush stalwarts demand Mayor apologise for his column

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

AS THE last president of Gold Rush to organise the Gold Rush Street Parade, I have made no comment on the decision and back flip by Gympie Regional Council to move the Gold Rush Parade out of Mary Street in 2018.

Up to now I have remained silent on this matter.

READ MORE: Taking it to the streets - how about some real consultation?

To say that I am disappointed to read the musings from our Mayor regarding Gold Rush in his "Insights" column in The Gympie Times (September 5, 2018) is a massive understatement.

His words that the Gold Rush Parade was dead in the water with the previous Gold Rush committee folding are just untrue and disturbing.

Mayor Curran should question the facts council staff have been peddling.

Gympie Council CEO Bernard Smith and Mayor Mick Curran.
Gympie Council CEO Bernard Smith and Mayor Mick Curran. Renee Albrecht

His Insights from the Mayors Desk sounded like a total whinge.

Perhaps it's time to listen to the people who put him there and realise it's his role to represent the people.

He has trashed the past efforts of Gold Rush, the association set up to stage a festival to celebrate Gympie's birthday.

Our association could not continue without volunteers coming forward.

All volunteers are getting older and funding is also harder to come by.

Gympie Council 2018 Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald.
Gympie Council 2018 Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald. Renee Albrecht

Instead of swiping at our committee by saying we are independent of council it might have been nicer to praise us for our efforts as we had to fundraise to cover all of our costs.

Councils run festivals all over Australia to bring visitors to their regions. Gympie council should be proud to celebrate the city's history.

The facts are that negotiations had been ongoing for three years with staff to take over the Gold Rush Festival before the actual closure of the association in 2017.

In all that time Gold Rush was part of the October overall Rush Festival. Our organisation wanted it to continue in the professional way we had built it up to be and that could only happen under council's care.

For the seven years to 2017, as president of Gold Rush I presided over a very small hard working committee, all volunteers.

Our other members helped where and whenever possible.

Our members took Gold Rush from an overgrown school fete to a festival that any city would be proud of.

Mayor Mick Curran
Mayor Mick Curran Tom Daunt

We introduced quality entertainers, laser light shows, a Classic Car Show, family parties and a grand parade befitting the status of Gympie.

With feedback from the Gympie community of what worked and what didn't work by 2016 our format was just about right, jammed packed with excitement and the 5000 people who lined Mary Street to watch the Parade agreed.

None of this happened by accident. My committee worked extremely hard to provide the community a quality festival. We fund raised, sought sponsors and donors and made it an all-inclusive festival. To be fair, council came to the party and funded the Mental as Anything concert in the Reserve. It was a wonderful day.

The assistance we got from council was a small grant, plus $1000 in-kind support.

Gympie Gold Rush Parade.
Gympie Gold Rush Parade. Patrick Woods

This barely covered our liability insurance. In the early 2000s council contribution was much higher.

During my seven years, council denied us use of Nelson Reserve for two years in a row without any consultation.

For another two years, they booked out the Civic Centre for functions that had nothing to do with Gold Rush and denied us total use of the car park.

Every one of those 7 years, council put barriers in our way.

Just when we thought we were making headway, council introduced the Rush Festival, which we became part of.

A statement released by the Gympie Regional Council on their Facebook page at 9pm Saturday on the change of venue for the Gold Rush Parade BACK to Mary St.
A statement released by the Gympie Regional Council on their Facebook page at 9pm Saturday on the change of venue for the Gold Rush Parade BACK to Mary St. Donna Jones

It's hard to switch the date that gold was found in October 1867.

Consultation with the community was minimal; just running a workshop for organisations is not consulting all the people of Gympie.

There was so much confusion with the festival's name, Gold Rush copped the brunt of explaining to Gympie residents. The Gold Rush office became the unofficial, unpaid Tourist and Information Centre, but we persevered and produced festivals that Gympie could be proud of.

In 2017, Gympie's 150th Anniversary year was different, the Jimmy Barnes concert was staged at Albert Park and not Nelson Reserve due to estimated larger numbers but I still sat down with council staff seeking future surety for our festival.

Rush Concert - Jimmy Barnes in Albert Park
Rush Concert - Jimmy Barnes in Albert Park LEEROY TODD

At all times we complied with council's requests. For its part, council kept moving times and events and adding more performers to the line-up without consultation and we had to rearrange our program to suit theirs, even though the Gold Rush festival was our responsibility.

So again I repeat that it was very disappointing that our Mayor said that the Gold Rush committee was dead in the water.

The fact is we could not compete with council and what they thought the community wanted.

We even have an email from the CEO praising our efforts running the 2017 Gold Rush Parade despite the rain storm ruining what should have been a great day.

The Mayor's comments are an insult to me, my committee and the members of Gold Rush. He owes us an apology.

Maybe he just mis-spoke.  

Jan Collins

Araluen

Gympie Times


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