THE head of Bendigo's Easter Fair society says the state government must confirm its 2022 event can go ahead ASAP after the cancellation of an Eaglehawk festival.
The society's Simon Mulqueen said the cancellation of the Dahlia and Arts Festival was sad both for everyone in the community.
"In light of this decision we urge the government to save the Bendigo Easter Fair 2022 by confirming it can proceed ASAP," he said.
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A question mark remains over whether the Easter festival can go ahead given uncertainties around COVID-19 restrictions and the difficulties keeping unvaccinated people away from parade routes.
Mr Mulqueen has asked the Bendigo and Eaglehawk community to get behind his group's efforts to ensure such events were not only allowed, but celebrated as the state emerged from lockdowns.
Meanwhile, the Bendigo Advertiser can confirm that Dahlia and Arts Festival stalwarts Judy and David Richard's exit from leadership roles was not acrimonious.
The festival's committee noted that the long-serving pair had left in a statement to media on Wednesday.
The paper understands that the pair had hoped to stay until the 50th festival had been run, then leave to allow new people and new ideas.
However, repeated cancellations of the 50th festival because of COVID-19 made that commitment harder to keep.
ORGANISERS have cancelled all 2022 Eaglehawk Dahlia and Arts Festival events over concerns about social distancing regulations.
They say they do not want to celebrate the 50th version of the event without its popular street parade through Eaglehawk.
"As the next festival will be celebrating the 50th Dahlia and Arts, it was felt we needed to have a full calendar of events to celebrate this milestone achievement," organisers said in a statement.
"The committee were strongly of the view that regulations were likely to preclude a street parade, it being the major event of the festival."
It comes amid ongoing uncertainty about the 150th Bendigo Easter Fair.
Last week, fair society president Simon Mulqueen expressed fears that heavy COVID-19 protocols would not be lifted in time for the 2022 celebrations to occur - meaning the 150th anniversary Easter Fair would have to be postponed for the third year running.
"There is no provision in the Victorian government's roadmap for events like ours," Mr Mulqueen said.
"The roadmap does not address larger community events... the government has not contemplated our industry. They don't want to think about it," he said. "But it's time to start moving, and thinking, forward."
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The Dahlia and Arts Festival has been grappling with similar concerns, as well as the very real risk that its events could inadvertently intensify the pandemic.
"The consequences of an outbreak ... on our event holders, event sponsors and the members of the general public, was a factor in our decision," the organisers said.
"It is heartbreaking for our volunteer members, who have already put many hours into preparation to come to this conclusion.
"This has had some impact on our committee members, with our long standing member, David Richards, stepping down as president, a position he has held for over 20 years.
"His wife, Judy Richards, will also cease responsibility for administrative tasks."
The committee has acknowledged it will need to attract new people with "futuristic views" even though it is confident it can hold bigger and better festivals into the future.
"To this end the committee is planning a community forum, in the near future, to gain input from the local community, on what they suggest could lead to greater and more vibrant festivals."
People interested in helping can visit www.eaglehawkfestival.org.au and leave their details.
More to come.
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