Small Fiesta fee ‘for survival’
RISING costs and a diminishing funding pool are driving the introduction of an entry fee to the Multicultural Carnival and Wine Fiesta in Weeroona Park at the 2016 Apple and Grape Harvest Festival.
For the first time next year, Weeroona Park will be fenced off on Saturday and Sunday and a charge of $5 per person over the age of 18 will be introduced.
Children 17 and under will remain free.
Apple and Grape Committee president Greg Thouard said organisers were left with little choice after funding agencies had given notice in recent years that the festival would have to become self-sufficient.
"When I became president in September I was asked to consider strategic improvements," he said.
"Well I've considered and researched other areas and found that festivals in Toowoomba, Glen Innes, South Brisbane and Batlow are among many celebrations that charge people for entry into the festival precinct.
"We're not charging to get into the whole Apple and Grape Festival, just Weeroona Park on the Saturday and Sunday.
"We know that not everyone is going to be 100% happy but we simply cannot survive with a quality festival without introducing a charging regime."
To critics who say "the good old days are gone", Mr Thouard's response was clear.
"There is no one who would like to go back to the good old days more than me, but there are more regulations to adhere to now than in 1980s and the 1970s," he said.
"Not to mention much of the festival infrastructure has become tired."
The bunting needs to be replaced at a cost of $7500, the lights in the street need to be replaced at a cost of $25,000.
"And if the community has an expectation to see the arches return this will not come without a cost," Mr Thouard said.
"It's easy to see there is a need to generate revenue."
Mr Thouard said the move was a positive one for the future of the festival.
"For the cost of a cup of coffee we can ensure the high standard of the festival for another 50 years," Mr Thouard said.
"We want the community to know that grants are hard to come by so this change is something small that will make a big difference."
- Security cost the 2014 Apple and Grape Festival in excess of $10,000.
- The bunting needs to be replaced at a cost of $7500.
- The lights in the street need to be replaced at a cost of $25,000.