Mrs Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, the first Festivale was held in 1987 at the Australian Italian Club at Prospect. It was the idea of the club's ladies committee, which was keen to organise an event that brought lots of families in. One of the committee members, Pauline Gaetani, remembers they handwrote letters to invite people such as the Governor of Tasmania and the Italian ConsulGeneral from Melbourne, who both attended. It was organised as a one-off event but the response was phenomenal. An Italian choir and a dancing group even came across from the mainland. Pauline says local businesses were incredible in how they rallied to support the event. Some assisted with accommodation. Others provided food and the airlines brought many visitors into Launceston for the event.
In 1988 it was decided that Festivale would move into the city streets to allow for the event to grow further. Pauline was invited by the Launceston City Council's Linda Jones to coordinate it, with support from council. Festivale in 1988 was Launceston's bicentenary event and it was spectacular. Held on a Saturday, it was quite special for Launceston residents to see CBD streets closed to traffic and opened up to the public for a big celebration of the city and its cultural diversity.
Bands played on the balcony of the Launceston Hotel and a former Festivale Chair, Bruce England, remembers there was a stage on the corner of Brisbane and St John Street. It was a free event that attracted thousands of people. Another former Festivale Chair, Kaye Hurcum organised the children's activities for the festival and says the festival astonished the people and was an absolute hit. The event continued successfully in the streets of the city centre for another few years but in 1996 moved to the City Park, with the move allowing the event to grow. An entry fee was introduced at that time to support the committee in meeting the running costs.
The move to City Park also saw Festivale move to a Friday night, Saturday, Sunday schedule and eventually become a licensed event. Festivale crowds average 30 000 annually, truly making it one of Tasmania's premier events on the social calendar. Crowd numbers have steadily climbed in the past six to seven years due to Festivale developing a strong culture amongst the public. When visitors to Launceston are preparing to make a trip, loved ones who live there tell them, 'You need to come when Festivale is on.' People who come to Launceston for Festivale literally book their accommodation while they are there for the next Festivale a year ahead.
People associate Festivale with families, the best Tasmanian produce and wine, the best entertainment, and a chance to take in loads of fun in a safe, beautiful and family-friendly venue. It is important to recognise the incredible contribution of Chair, Lou Clark and her committee of 10 to 12 volunteers, with the committee employing a full-time event manager, a part-time event officer and a contract site manager. Once one Festivale is done and dusted, planning starts immediately for the next. The venue for Festivale remains a vital part of its success.
The park is safe with plenty of activities for children. Entertainment has been the important focus of the event over the years and there has been an amazing line-up on the stage to entertain the crowds. The ABBA tribute band and the Kylie Minogue tribute have been incredibly popular. Festivale is also becoming quite a sought-after gig for performers. When Daryl Braithwaite returned home after completing his first Festivale performance, he phoned and asked if he could sing there again. Tim Freedman, Mental As Anything, Diesel and the Eurogliders are among other high profile performers to appear at Festivale .
Festivale has received fantastic support over the years from Launceston City Council, and the council's parks teams do an amazing job getting the park ready each year.
Importantly, it stands on its own two feet financially. Patrons pay to attend the festival , but the experience they receive in return cannot be measured, in terms of the enjoyment it delivers. It is a quality experience that keeps people coming back. Security teams patrol the park to keep it safe across the weekend. People get to see the very best local and interstate performers. It is an incredibly professionally run festival , which ensures patrons get the best experience on offer. The fact that people come back year after year speaks volumes about the committee being onto something pretty special.
The involvement of community groups is an important part of the success. The Girl Guides run a lost children's service. Playgroup Tasmania and the Tailrace Centre run children's activities. Newstead Child Health offers a service for parents. Tamar Sunrise Rotary Club assists in the running of the information tent. Riverside Lions have assisted with gate keeping. St John Ambulance provides medical assistance. Apex does an amazing job as the clean team. The Tamar Bicycle Users Group offer a bike minding service. It is an arrangement that ensures community organisations are paid for providing these services.
Performers, MCs and stage managers are also paid. Festivale uses as many local supplies and contractors as possible to ensure that money goes back into the community. The flow on effect to the northern economy is substantial, with the estimated economic impact of Festivale 2015 valued at $7.5 million. That includes travel, accommodation, meals, shopping, visiting other tourist attractions, car and taxi hire as well money spent with vendors at Festivale.
The 2015 patrons' survey shows 3,600 Festivale visitors were from interstate, mainly from Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. One in four of the Tasmania visitors were from outside the Launceston/Tamar Valley region.
I pay special tribute to the Festivale Committee, current and past, for their tireless dedication and service to the city we love. We owe much to them for giving us an event that celebrates all we cherish about northern Tasmania, and specifically Launceston. I wish them continued success for 2016 and long may Festivale continue to thrive. Thank you.