Queanbeyan River Festival cancelled for 2017 with events review pending

With Riverfest cancelled this year there will be no build your own boat race. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
With Riverfest cancelled this year there will be no build your own boat race. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Queanbeyan’s annual River Festival has been cancelled for 2017 it was announced last week.

The Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council noted the cancellation at last Wednesday’s meeting and determined to undertake a review of council events early next year.

Riverfest ran from 2014 as a replacement for the Queanbeyan Regatta to combat dwindling crowd numbers and of course featured the build your own boat race.

A council spokesman said engagement with key stakeholders resulted in the decision to cancel this year’s event.

“Council noted feedback from key stakeholders that the timing of the event is not ideal and that the aspects of the event most valued were associated activities like the Environmental Expo and family activities,” the spokesman said. 

“In addition, the [Eden-Monaro Cancer Support Group] noted the boat race is not an effective charity fundraiser for the group.

“Event review is an appropriate and regular process to ensure that the highest community benefit is provided.”

CEO of Eden-Monaro Cancer Support Group Melissa Gardiner said however the charity had never recommended the Riverfest not go ahead.

She said the charity viewed the boat race as a valuable way to maintain a connection to Queanbeyan, the town where it was founded.

“The reason we took on the boat race was we wanted exposure in Queanbeyan,” Ms Gardiner said.

“It was never about the money.

“It wasn’t a huge fundraising success for us but it was a way to stay active in Queanbeyan.”

The Environmental Expo will be held in conjunction with the Queanbeyan, Bungendore and Braidwood shows instead and the spokesman said this would help it reach a larger audience.

Convener of the Queanbeyan Sustainability Group Katrina Willis said she was concerned about a lack of consultation.

The group has been involved with the Environmental Expo since its inception.

“It was business as usual,” Ms Willis said. 

"I don’t think they did a very good job talking to the people that actually take the trouble to participate.”

She added members of the sustainability group would continue to volunteer with the newly located Environmental Expo.

Ms Willis said she was approached by council to endorse a grant application on behalf of the group for a new festival which would replace the Queanbeyan Multicultural Festival. 

She did not endorse it as council indicated to her it was yet to receive feedback from multicultural groups connected to the original festival.

The council spokesman would not be drawn on whether a grant application had been lodged for a new festival saying, “Council regularly bids for State and Commonwealth grants for a variety of reasons.”

Council events may prove to remain a contentious issue with Cr Trudy Taylor questioning council’s decision to move the Queanbeyan Christmas Party from Crawford Street to the riverfront.