Tenterfield presents The Peter Allen Festival

The Tenterfield Saddler will no doubt be a 'performance hotspot' during the Peter Allen Festival.
The Tenterfield Saddler will no doubt be a 'performance hotspot' during the Peter Allen Festival.

Organisers of next year’s inaugural Peter Allen Festival have come out all guns blazing, keen to sign up a headline act and secure all preparations for what is billed to be a family-oriented event with appeal for all ages.

The countdown is now on with less than 12 months to the September 7-9 festival. A sub-committee of the Tenterfield Chamber of Tourism, Industry and Business has been charged with organising the event, with the chamber keen that it be economically-viable right from the start.

The chamber has taken on advice from Parkes’ Elvis Festival, which started out as a free event and met resistance when certain components of the festival became ticketed. While there will be many free aspects to the Peter Allen Festival, major attractions over the three days will have to pay their way.

The schedule is still to be finalised but the program will probably include a free Mardi Gras-type Peter Allen street party on the Friday night, a red carpet dinner on the Saturday night featuring the headline act, and a Sunday morning brunch showcasing local produce. There’s also potential for a schools concert on the Thursday evening.

Throughout the festival there will be workshops for both children and adults, the CBD will become Peter Allen Boulevard with interactive displays including street arts, theatre and music; performance hotspots; tours; and an Allen-inspired Who’s Got Talent Tenterfield.

The chamber is very keen that the festival not get ahead of itself, starting out with a small but sturdy framework that can grow with the festival’s popularity to become a flagship event by 2020, aiming for longevity and resilience. The goal is a minimum 1000 festival visitors next year, climbing to 2000 plus by 2020.

The chamber is contributing $30,000 in seed money with hopes of also securing a Destination NSW $20,000 tourism event grant as well as local sponsorship. The services of profoundly-experienced event organiser Merv McCasker have been procured as festival coordinator, thanks to Mr McCasker’s tree change to Tenterfield and willingness to contribute to his new community.

Feelers are also going out to Peter Allen tribute artists – some well-known locally and others on a broader stage – to help provide an authentic Allen highlight to the event. The chamber is keen to involve local schools, with one suggestion being for groups of students to be assigned a Peter Allen classic song which they then research and pair up with a local business to decorate a shop window in theme.

Organisers see scope far beyond the iconic Tenterfield Saddler, not only through Allen’s other classics but also in the songs he penned for other artists such as Olivia Newton-John (I honestly love you) and Christopher Cross (Arthur’s Theme).

The organising committee’s strategic document, prepared by tourism and events agency Tilma Group, positions the festival as a platform not only to reinforce the new Tenterfield True brand and increase visitation, but as to showcase and educate on the performing arts, heritage and culture within the region.

The Peter Allen ‘hook’ was identified during Tilma’s branding workshops as a tourism asset that could be leveraged to boost the local economy.