Soaring costs raises queries about Gympie's Gold Rush future
GYMPIE'S iconic Gold Rush festival could become a major tourism draw card for the region - but who will be running it?
This was Gympie Regional Council's question of the day at yesterday's general meeting with some councillors querying the event's future given the high costs involved in running it.
There is $75,000 in this year's budget for the event, but this does not include the hours council staff have spent organising it.
It is this ongoing cost to ratepayers that prompted some councillors to question the long-term plan.
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Community services director Pauline Gordon said they would "absolutely” transition the event back to community control if the desire was there.
"We'll continue to do this until people say they want to run it,” she said.
However Cr Glen Hartwig asked if there was a plan to drive that and avoid people taking it for granted.
"People might assume the council will continue to run it,” Cr Hartwig said. "We'll be stuck with it for a very long time.”
Mayor Mick Curran agreed the council did not want to be put in a position where it was eventually running fishing competitions or organising rugby league games.
But there was no denying the council's willingness to step in was crucial.
"If we didn't step in (last year) it wouldn't have happened,” he said.
The council unanimously agreed to open the ideas for this year's event to public feedback.
Deputy Mayor Bob Leitch said this would be the best barometer for what direction the event takes in the future.
"They (residents) need to tell us what they actually want out of it,” he said.
This year's plan is for the event to run over three days - Friday, October 18, to Sunday, October 20.
This includes moving the parade from its traditional 3pm Saturday timeslot to Friday evening. In the future the hope is to transform the event into a celebration of the city's heritage as the town that saved Queensland, and create a festival that draws people from across the region.