THE decision to keep the Bendigo Easter Festival a three-day event in 2013 appears to have polarised the community.
Bendigo Easter Festival advisory board chairman Rod Fyffe yesterday announced his group had unanimously voted for the next year’s festival to be on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday after receiving a “comprehensive review” of this year’s festival.
Cr Fyffe said a torchlight parade would be on Saturday evening and the gala parade on the Sunday from 1pm.
He said the celebrations would include entertainment and community activities on the Monday.
“This has worked really well over the last two Easters and has resulted in a better, more action-packed festival,” Cr Fyffe said.
“The changes over the past two years centralised Easter activities and have allowed people to move easily on foot between the key entertainment zones.
“The board also believes that the new parade routes worked well, with excellent crowd numbers turning out to watch both events, and that the fireworks display off the Rosalind Park tower was one of the best in years.
“This year’s festival was simply an outstanding success, with attendance numbers remaining the same, if not more than previous years.”
Bendigo brass and pipe bands have spoken out against the current format.
Kangaroo Flat’s Chris Earl, an advocate for a Saturday, Sunday, Monday festival, said the ultimate decision for next year’s event would rest with City of Greater Bendigo councillors.
“The advisory board has made a recommendation after a review with minimal community input and has yet to acknowledge the strong community desire to have the Bendigo Easter Festival on the right three days – Saturday, Sunday and Monday,” he said.
“The right three days are important to maximising community involvement in our city’s number one community event of the year, particularly the gala parade, and to be respectful to the Christian traditions that are the fundamental basis of Easter.”
City of Greater Bendigo Eppalock ward candidate George Flack yesterday slammed the decision as “wrong”.
He vowed he would advocate for a three-day festival on Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday if elected to the council in October.
The advisory board includes four community representatives, four Bendigo Easter Fair Society members and a representative each from the Bendigo Chinese Association and City of Greater Bendigo.
“We have not taken this decision lightly,” Cr Fyffe said.
“We have consulted with festival volunteers, we undertook surveys of festival patrons and we consulted with festival sponsors before making the decision to continue with the format.”