Festival numbers down

WHETHER the Banana Festival will be peeled back to a three-day event next year will be decided at a community meeting next week.

The call for community input into the future planning of the festival was made after a disappointing%turnout to Saturday's youth-orientated events, festival president Chris Chrisostomos said.

"At the peak of the day we probably had only about 100 people watching the bands and activities that we organised for outside the Civic Centre," Mr Chrisostomos said.

"We are a bit disappointed with the turnout, especially because one of the criticisms of the event last year was that there was not enough for young people to do.

"It's disappointing because we organised a list of local bands, dance schools and student groups to be involved as a way to highlight the talent we have on the Tweed.

"This was a free day out for the local youth, and there were bands and different activities for them, both inside and outside the Civic Centre from 10am to 6pm on Saturday, but very few people turned up.

"It has left us scratching our heads as to why there was such a small turnout, so we will be asking the community for their input to plan next year's event, because it is an event for the whole community."

The festival program was extended from three days to 10 this year after the parade was washed out in 2007, giving organisers a second date to run the event in case of inclement weather.

"Maybe 10 days was just too much," Mr Chrisostomos said.

"For the past 53 years the festival has ended after the parade, but that was held last weekend. So maybe people didn't realise that the program had been extended. But we have received excellent coverage in the media; have paid for advertising in the papers and radio, so I don't understand why they weren't aware of the change."

Despite the disappointing response to Saturday's events that included a cavalcade of entrants in the festival's Banana Queen competition, Mr Chrisostomos said the festival had been a success with a bigger-than-expected turnout for the inaugural aquatic festival, a booked-out ball on Friday night, and the "biggest crowd yet" for last Saturday's parade.

Members of the community are invited to bring their ideas to improve the festival to the next meeting of the organising committee, at Tweed Coast Property Sales in the Murwillumbah Post Office building from 6.30pm on September 8.

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