Call for festival return

THERE have been growing calls to bring back the Beaufort Street Festival to revive the street, but festival co-founder John Carey says it’s not the answer.

“A one-off event, in my view, doesn’t answer or address the key challenge of rents and a mix [of shop types],” Mr Carey said.

“A booze and food fest is not the answer.”

• The festival used to bring a lot of people to the street, for a day.

The popular festival was largely run by tireless volunteers from the Beaufort Street Network, with some funding from Vincent and Stirling councils.

Mr Carey said he used to put in 20 to 30 hours a week for six months to get the festival ready.

“I had no commercial interest, and we worked our guts out to make that festival happen, and it’s a lot of time, energy and resources.

“Many of the alcohol businesses did not sponsor it or invest in it.”

He says “some bars would have their biggest day in sales, yet give little to no financial help at all.

“The irony was noted: volunteers with no commercial interest working their guts out to deliver profits to businesses who would not invest in the festival”.

The festival ran from 2010-2015, and it was a big day for traders.

But one day’s business wasn’t enough to counter the long term downturn: Bodkins Bootery reported a record trade during the 2011 festival but they still closed that branch shortly afterwards.

In 2016 the Beaufort Street Network decided to focus on smaller events throughout the year, rather than one big annual event. So far they’ve held speakers corners, the Dogtober dog show, the Christmas Festival, and the “Art on Beaufort” street gallery show, where the utilitarian Water Corp banners for the mains replacement project have been festooned with artwork to help turn the disruption into an attraction.

by DAVID BELL

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