Country festival to squash big event competitors
A SMALL country town is punching above its weight with an Australia Day award nomination for its annual pumpkin festival.
Goomeri Pumpkin Festival is one of the nominees for the Gympie Regional Council's community event of the year award as part of the 2019 Australia Day Awards.
Pumpkin festival co-ordinator Kim Boyter said the team had worked hard to increase the event's level of professionalism during the past two years.
She said the festival was now comparable to big events across the Wide Bay Burnett region.
"We're now competing with the big boys like the Gympie Music Muster and Woodford Folk Festival, although our numbers don't match theirs," Mrs Boyter said.
"The level of professionalism that we operate under is now in line with those major events."
The festival committee is hopeful the event will be successful in the Australia Day awards.
"The last 12 months it has been a roller-coaster of successes for the Pumpkin Festival and this is just the icing on the cake," Mrs Boyter said.
"We've got our fingers and toes crossed and everyone is really excited about it."
During 2018, the festival reached the final four for the Gympie Chamber of Commerce awards.
The team is aiming to get the festival recognised in the next 12 months as a significant destination event within the Wide Bay.
"It's an ongoing process, it's a lot of hard work, but we've got a really enthusiastic team of volunteers who are really keen to progress it to the next level," Mrs Boyter said.
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Goomeri Pumpkin Festival has put the small country town on the map every year, and the town has seen visitors return throughout the year.
"That's what sustains our town, is those people that travel through and stop at the bakery or the pub or stop at the supermarket," Mrs Boyter said.
"That's what we are trying to achieve is that repeat visitation that is going to continue to create economic stimulus in our town."
The winners of the award will be announced at the Gympie Civic Centre on January 26.
"Just to get recognised for the hard work that's been done, I think we're winners anyway," she said.
Goomeri's 23rd festival will be a four-day event held during May, 2019.
"2019 is going to be a lot different to anything you've seen before," Mrs Boyter said.
"We're hoping to encourage people to come and stay in our town for four days instead of just one day."
Programs for the 2019 festival will be released late February or early March.