The biggest event on the Upper Lachlan Shire calendar is no more.
With heavy hearts, at their meeting of Friday 4th September, the Collector Village Pumpkin Festival Committee took the difficult decision to recommend to Council the retirement of the event.
Uncertainty around COVID restrictions made planning for next year’s Festival almost impossible, necessitating the cancellation of the Festival for a second consecutive year.
Festival Committee president Gary Poile said it was a particularly tough call in light of the Festival’s significance to the Collector community and beyond.
“The Collector Village Pumpkin Festival has been an annual family event for many families over the last 17 years and the closure of the festival will be sorely missed by many,” he said.
“But we had to face the reality that it is not feasible to continue to put in the enormous hours of work required to keep the event in mothballs with no certainty that we can ever return to `normal’.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was reaching a point where it was becoming difficult to accommodate the influx of visitors to the festival and provide the necessary infrastructure to ensure the safety of over 15,000 visitors to our small village for the event.”
Since its inception in 2003, due to the hard work and planning of its dedicated Committee, the Collector Village Pumpkin Festival has grown exponentially to being a tourist attraction that drew people from as far afield as the Sydney, Canberra, the South Coast, the Southern Highlands and the Central West.
With those crowds, however, came increased logistical requirements including a full year of planning traffic management and negotiating with stakeholders including Council, Police, Transport for NSW and bus companies.
“Managing 150 market stalls, planning entertainment, organising competitions and logistics support for the event requires many months of planning by our volunteers. That’s in addition to maintaining marketing and the social media platforms which is continual. It became a huge undertaking,” Mr Poile said.
Mr Poile hoped that the closure of the event might lead to multiple, smaller events that highlighted and attracted people to the village of Collector.
“Our committee believes that the decision to retire the event will provide an opportunity for community and local businesses to run a wider variety of smaller events that will continue to attract visitors to the region,” he said.
The Collector Village Pumpkin Festival has been an amazing benefit to the Collector community with many improvements from the proceeds of the festival going directly to local community groups, primary school and churches where financial support to these small rural organisations and groups is often limited.
The Collector Village Pumpkin Festival Committee is a section 355 committee of the Upper Lachlan Shire Council and as such makes recommendations to Council for final determination.