Rockin' rally

GRAFTON could see a weekend-long, town-wide festival of music, culture and other events this September if an ambitious plan devised by the Grafton Chamber of Commerce and Industry comes to fruition.

Dubbed the Grafton Festival of Music and Arts, the event would be run at the same time as the World Rally Championship stage to be held on the North Coast from September 8 to 11 which is tipped to bring an influx of tens of thousands of people to the area.

Chamber executive officer James Patterson said the idea was for Grafton businesses and tourism operators to hold individual events under an overall Grafton Festival of Music and Arts banner.

“The hard thing is trying to create an event when there’s very little money available so what we’re trying to do in this first instance is to coordinate businesses to run something on this particular weekend,” Mr Patterson said. “It’s a low-cost approach to trying to get something big happening.”

Some of the events proposed to be part of the festival are live music, exhibitions, children’s performances and school bands.

Mr Patterson said the chamber was open to other suggestions and would work with businesses to determine what might be possible with the emphasis on being as festive and broad-scoped as possible.

Mr Patterson said the world rally event was a great opportunity to attract visitors to the area who might never have visited ordinarily and said the festival was designed to highlight the town’s assets while providing a boost to business and tourism.

“They’re anticipating 20,000 visitors to the area based on previous rallies, so yes it has potential – certainly our accommodation is going to be booked solid, probably from Yamba all the way to Nambucca, so our role really is to try and make sure we make as many connections and create as much interest in Grafton as possible from those who are on our doorstep,” he said.

“It’s also an opportunity to showcase Grafton – we’ve got a great river, we’ve got great surrounding areas, we have high quality restaurants and eateries and entertainment venues so it’s a great opportunity to highlight these.”

The chamber also plans to work with tourism students from Grafton TAFE in organising the event, giving them valuable hands-on experience in event management.

The chamber is spreading the word to local businesses and tourism operators and Mr Patterson said there was strong interest.

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