Rivafest scaled back to ensure its future

Ballinas annual two-day Rivafest community festival, which cost ratepayers almost $70,000 last year, has been scaled back to a single day in a bid to save money and keep the event afloat.

At last weeks Ballina Shire Council general meeting councillors voted to downsize this years event and cut its allocated resources in the 2007-08 budget. They also resolved for Council to explore partnering the event with another organisation or entity to manage or co-ordinate it.

In a review of Council-arranged public events, staff said Rivafest drew around 12,000 people when it was held last November in Fawcett and Missingham parks up by around 2000 people from the previous year.

However, staff said the two event sites made it difficult to manage, spreading limited staff and volunteer resources too thin. Despite strong business sponsorship, the nett cost to Council of running the event went over budget last year.

One of the main reasons for the cost blow-out was the smaller than expected revenue from last years circus. Council staff said providing river-based activities such as jet boats also strained the budget.

While staff said the event generated significant social and economic benefits to the community through extra retail trade and tourism, they questioned whether the expenditure justified these flow-on benefits.

They said the recent cancellation of Casinos annual Beef Week highlighted the difficulties in financing and co-ordinating major events.

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