Festival of Busselton's future uncertain

Bernie Masters, a past committee member and long term festival advocate, with City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley. Image supplied.
Bernie Masters, a past committee member and long term festival advocate, with City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley. Image supplied.

The Festival of Busselton’s future is on the line unless the community take ownership of the annual event.

Stakeholders are urging the community to attend the festival’s AGM on March 21 to voice their ideas to ensure the event maintains its position in the community.

City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley said greater community buy-in was needed for the festival to be assured of a future. 

“The Busselton Festival is a great community event and no one wants to see it lose relevance,” he said.

“However, we simply can’t rely on a small group of people to pull the event together year after year.  

“Anyone who has enjoyed the event in the past and has ideas on how the festival may take shape in the future should definitely attend the AGM.”

Former festival president Bernie Masters supported the mayor's calls for the community to put their hand up to be part of the festival’s future.

“In the past, the festival has organised or helped to promote over 60 events during January, with most events run by other community groups such as the Busselton Jetty or the Busselton Art Society,” he said.

“Total attendances at these events has often exceeded 30,000 people. 

“So the festival is an important part of the summer holiday activities on offer to locals and tourists alike, but it is unlikely to continue without renewed support from the community.”

He said the City of Busselton, the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association and the Busselton Chamber of Commerce had all offered their support in principle for the 2019 Festival.

The Busselton Geographe Bay Rotary Club, which started the festival in 1964, will maintain its current level of involvement.

“The festival needs more people to help share the load, so I encourage people to attend the AGM and accept a position on the committee,” he said.

Following January’s festival, Festival of Busselton treasurer Paul Gardiner spoke out after a letter published in the Mail suggested the festival lacked atmosphere and needed an organisational overhaul.

“The festival committee did the best we could with the people we had available and are grateful to those who did put their hand up,” he said.

“I was extremely pleased with the final outcome given the number of people involved – (the letter) emphasised just how thankless volunteering can be.

“I would appreciate and welcome with open arms applications and fresh ideas to join the committee for next year’s 55th festival.”

The Festival of Busselton AGM will be held at the Esplanade Hotel on March 21 at 7.30pm.