Tweed Daily News

Wintersun heading south

THE decision to hold a mini- Wintersun Festival in Victoria this year has reignited fears the main festival is on its way out of Coolangatta.

Following the 2009 Wintersun Festival, which runs from May 29 to June 8, a smaller version of the rock n' roll event will be held in Mildura in August.

This will be the first time part of the major rock 'n' roll nostalgia festival, which includes vintage cars, entertainment and market stalls, will be held away from its original venue.

Wintersun director Barry McNamara yesterday said that if that event proved a success, it could mean a permanent shift south for the main festival.

“Mildura is one of the towns we've been speaking to who have expressed great interest in the event,” Mr McNamara said.

“The enthusiasm and excitement from them was strong, so it's something we agreed to do.”

Mr McNamara said towns across Queensland and NSW had also put their hands up to host the event, which brings in about $20 million annually.

He confirmed that Newcastle, Wollongong, Port Macquarie and the Sunshine Coast are among those to have shown interest in hosting the main festival.

Mr McNamara has asked for increased financial support from businesses in Coolangatta and Tweed Heads for the massive event to be able to remain local.

“Broad consideration and discussion has been under way as far as the future of the event is concerned,” Mr McNamara said yesterday.

“We considered putting the festival on the road, but we thought that would be a nightmare to manage.

“The preference of all the volunteers and board would be to stay in Coolangatta, but stay here successfully.

“When we look at all the areas that need to be considered when selecting a venue, there is a broad range of issues. But there is no- where in Australia that ticks all the boxes better than Tweed Heads-Coolangatta.

“We have everything going for us except the support from local businesses.”

But, he said, retaining the festi- val would take more than just extra cash from local businesses.

“There are a heap of issues. If you wanted to list all the reasons, there is a depth to it.

“There's one thousand little different things, including traffic control and venue restrictions that have developed over the years.”

Mr McNamara will make an announcement on the future of the festival next Monday.

Tweed Tourism general manager Phil Villiers could not shed any light on Monday's announcement, but encouraged locals and businesses to keep working to ensure the event remained here.

“We can't afford to lose it,” he said.

Mr McNamara said the mini- festival in Mildura is expected to attract visitors from Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales and will in turn encourage them to head to the main event - should it stay in Coolangatta.

Mildura Rural City Council events facilitator Guy Couzner said the mini-Wintersun, scheduled for August 14-17, would coincide with the Masters Games and the anniversary of Elvis' death.

“It's a wonderful opportunity for us,” Mr Couzner said.

“We are always looking for new and bright ideas to attract people to the region.”

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