EasterFest forced out

The future of the Bacchus Marsh EasterFest at Maddingley Park is in doubt after organisers said they can no longer afford to run the event.

Moorabool council’s new park hire policy, which was approved four days after last year’s EasterFest, has banned amusement rides, markets and vehicles on site (other than for display purposes).

Groups are also now required to pay $350 for a toilet cleaning fee, a flat $750 hire fee and a $500 bond, bringing up the total cost to $1600.

But the price is too exorbitant for EasterFest organisers, who previously paid a $350 hire fee and a $500 bond.

For the past two years, the event has been held at Maddingley Park – the town’s largest public open space – with all money raised going to the Bacchus Marsh and Melton Regional Hospital.

Event co-organiser Dotty Hazell told Star Weekly while the event would still go ahead this year on a much smaller scale, the group would struggle to hold it anywhere other than Maddingley Park in the future.

More than 2000 people have turned out to the past two fundraisers, raising more than $7200 for the hospital’s urgent care department.

Ms Hazell said after last year’s event, when a sprinkler was accidentally damaged by an amusement ride operator, the group was told rides would not be allowed back.

“We weren’t even made aware of the sprinklers in the first place,” Ms Hazell said. “We weren’t given any maps letting us know what to look out for and where.

“The policy doesn’t even say where the sprinklers are – there aren’t any maps attached to the policy.”

When Ms Hazell raised her concerns at last week’s council meeting, Moorabool council’s social and organisational development manager Danny Colgan said the hire fees were consistent with the costs borne by the council and park committee.

He said repairs after the damage at a previous EasterFest had exceeded the $500 bond.

This year’s EasterFest will run at Village Green, but Ms Hazell said she will meet with council officers in coming weeks to “negotiate a suitable resolution” for Maddingley Park’s new hire policy.

Djerriwarrh Health Services chief executive Andrew Freeman said the Maddingley Park committee had been “extremely” supportive of the hospital for many years.

“It was great to see the local community come out in force [on Sunday] to attend the David Calleja Memorial Car Show at Maddingley Park and lend their support to Djerriwarrh Health Services,” Mr Freeman said.

“It was another hugely successful event held at the park and we look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the park committee into the future.”