Charity falls victim to cost increase

DESPITE donating more than $100,000 to charity over the years, the Orange and District Picnic Races Committee has announced it is unable to support a local charity at its upcoming event on Saturday, January 18.

Committee president Ben O’Halloran said increased costs and low crowd numbers at the last event had forced the decision.

The 2013 event was the first time the committee had been charged by Racing Orange to use the Towac Park racecourse, a cost he said could not be absorbed by their upcoming event.

“It’s a tough decision, but it had to be done. The main focus is for everyone is to have a good time and put on a picnic race in Orange,” he said.

Racing Orange chair Ellie Brown said the course fee was introduced to cover ground maintenance and preparation of the area.

“At the end of the day it costs money to prepare for a day like this,” she said.

“It costs thousands of dollars and it’s not something we make a lot of money on, it’s just to cover costs.”

Ms Brown said the fee put them in line with other race tracks across the state.

“Traditionally picnic races are the only race of the year and the whole community gets involved with helping,” she said.

Just 1250 people attended the picnic races in January 2013, way down on the 2400 from the previous year.

“Our tent enquiries are a good marker. In 2012 we had 26 and only seven in 2013,” Mr O’Halloran said.

He said if crowd numbers increased in the coming years the committee would look into forming new charity partnerships.

The Orange Picnic Races will be held on Saturday, January 18. Gates open at noon.

Entry costs $20 and children aged under 14 are admitted free.

nadine.morton@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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