Letter: festival decision sends mixed message

I refer to your article "Options Open, Young Witness, June 26".

So council has made a decision to cancel festival events in the Hilltops area and for the community to come up with innovative ways to encourage tourism and stimulate business activity. It is important to note that the resolution was to "cancel" and not to modify or review which in itself has its own connotations. Your article outlines that Cr Wendy Tuckerman (also state member for Goulburn) moved and was supported by council to cancel the Cherry Festival and other Hilltops festivals and come up with creative and innovative ideas to hold them in a different way.

To me this is the thinking of a person working for two masters with differing objectives. Council is to go to the community to seek ideas on ways to do that. That is to say cancel the Cherry Festival but seek ideas to hold events that does not attract a crowd in six months time amid fears of spreading COVID-19.

In an article to the Witness the previous week I spoke of mixed messages causing community confusion. Through last week I read articles encouraging to support our local businesses and stimulate tourism to the area.

What exactly does that mean in reality - say but not do. The representatives from the Boorowa Chamber of Commerce who pleaded at the council meeting their desire to continue with plans to hold the Boorowa Woolfest must be asking what it means to consult the community. By listening I completely agree with what speakers Michael Ward and Angus Mitchell from Boorowa had to say as they were requesting to continue with plans to hold the events and to modify those plans into the future if the need arises.

In their presentation they explained that these events in any format take months to organise to get systems in place for public safety and community enjoyment. To now cancel and go to the community seeking innovative ways to hold events differently to promote the area without attracting crowds creates confusion and mixed messages but more importantly it runs organisers out of time. It is the thinking of people who do not get involved in the responsibility and hard work of organising events and I take this opportunity of thanking those who do because I am feeling your anxiety and frustration at this moment.

What is the real message from authorities because these innovative but abstract directives are confusing. Council has in effect cancelled the Boorowa Irish Woolfest with this resolution and put under threat the Young National Cherry Festival. If cherry growers were with the same thinking there would not be a cherry harvest - in fact that question has already been put to me. Do we discourage the itinerant workers and backpackers that we are so reliant on to harvest and market the crop? Of course not because we remain vigilant with personal awareness of personal and public hygiene and precautions of distancing.

Like with festival arrangements the harvest takes months of pre-preparation and ordering of stock. Growers are not going to say that we will do the harvest another way but they will say that we will continue with the harvest respectful of the pandemic limitations. A lot of planning and positive precaution is involved balancing economic stimulus and public and personal health during the threat of a pandemic.

They are both equally important and as is timely and clear directives.

Cr John Walker, Young

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