Poodle skirts and pomades could hit Inverell’s streets next year if an event seeking to revitalise the local festival scene finds support.
The Sapphire Rock ‘n Roll Festival is the brainchild of local business owners Kim Kelleher, Jane Brookman and Steve Johnson, who are keen to build a new tradition and fill the gap left by previous local events.
“We’ve just seen an absolute drop off in events in Inverell,” Mr Johnson said.
“We’ve seen the town wide sale - it’s been canned, we’ve seen the business awards go, we’ve seen the Mini World Cup go, we’ve seen the 4x4 camping show go.”
The trio’s proposal spans three days, and includes retro fashion shows, a roller derby, a 50s/60s era movie marathon and dance displays. Set to coincide with the National Transport Museum’s swap meet in March, the festival would also include vintage car displays, a billy cart derby and a drive-in movie screening of Grease at the museum.
It would make the most of Shake Rattle ‘N Bowl with a ten pin bowling challenge, show off the town’s fossicking scene with a hidden sapphire event and promote retail stores with shopping and window display competitions. A street parade, a retro themed art exhibition and a playlist of 50s and 60s rock and roll music played over the town’s loudspeakers have also been suggested.
“There is not one business in town that cannot benefit from this. I think if everyone just has a look at it and plays along, it’ll be a massive event,” Mr Johnson said.
Keen to stimulate the local economy, Mr Johnson, Ms Kelleher and Ms Bookman were inspired by a similar event which ran successfully at Mount Tamborine for seven years.
“The money that it brought into Mt Tamborine for a weekend was phenomenal,” Mr Johnson said.
The group have secured ‘in principle’ support from the Inverell Shire Council after speaking at last week’s monthly meeting. Several councillors spoke on the value of attracting ‘new money’ to town.
“We know that the tourist dollar has a multiply factor of seven. So for every dollar that gets spent by somebody, it goes through seven sets of hands. The average tourist has an average day’s spend of $185 a day. So if you multiply that out by seven, you see how then those numbers of funds expand rapidly,” mayor Paul Harmon said.
He said the festival may be more feasible as a 2020 event, but remained optimistic.
“If it happens next year, fantastic. If not, March 2020 could be a great kick off for a rock and roll festival. The proposal they put together was very professional and I think with tweaking a few things it could be one of Inverell’s most successful events,” he said.
The council voted to help identify grant funding opportunities, consider requests for assistance (such as road closures and access to equipment/facilities) and to nominate manager of tourism and marketing Peter Caddey to join the committee as a council representative.
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