The Tenterfield Chamber of Tourism, Industry and Business is hoping Peter Allen can do for Tenterfield what Elvis has done for Parkes, and is picking the brains of one of the latter’s organisers to gain some insights into how to set up a successful annual event.
Cathy Treasure is director of the Parkes Elvis Festival, and met with chamber sub-committee members who are looking to create a Tenterfield version of a celebrity festival.
Parkes attracts 25,000-plus Elvis fans annually to celebrate the King each January, with record crowds expected for next year’s festival to celebrate 50 years since Elvis’s 1968 Comeback Special.
It has a packed five-day program of events, including free entertainment, look-a-like contests, Tribute to Elvis competitions, a street parade, exhibits, Cars of the Era show and more than 100 other Elvis-themed events.
“The festival is a community-driven event that involves a wide cross-section of the community, from council to local businesses to more than 75 volunteers who give up their time to successfully stage the festival each year, all of which adds to the amazing atmosphere,” Ms Treasure said.
“Alongside the iconic CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope, Parkes Elvis Festival has cemented Parkes’ status as a major tourism destination, providing a significant boost to not only the Parkes economy but to the economy of the whole region in what would usually be a low tourism period.
“Considering visitor length of stay, bed nights, ticket sales, food and transport costs, the festival brings an estimated injection of over $13 million into the local economy.”
While local businesses would no doubt like to see a cash injection of that magnitude, subcommittee member Paul Quinn said even on a smaller scale the rural central-west town of Trundle is making great gains with its ABBA festival.
The chamber is looking to engage the Tilma Group (now familiar to Tenterfieldians through the Activate Tenterfield workshops) to assist with developing the event agenda, marketing plans and promotional materials.
“Our emphasis is on creating a good economic model, right from the get-go,” Mr Quinn said, “and generate some financial security.”
He said Parkes now generates its $13 million a year from what started out as a free event.
“But it took years to get to that stage.”
Parkes and Trundle have less tenuous ties to the icons celebrated in their festivals than Tenterfield has to Peter Allen. Allen-related ideas for promoting the district were also prominent in Activate Tenterfield workshops.
Mr Quinn said this would be a festival which focused activities in the town’s central business district, and it is tentatively slated for September 2018.