Bewilderment. That's the reaction of Parkes mayor, Ken Keith when he learned the Tamworth Country Music Festival was postponed and the new dates will clash directly with the Parkes Elvis Festival.
The Elvis festival is due to take place from April 20-24 after a decision to push back the regular January date, with the early part of 2022 deemed too risky in the COVID climate.
High case numbers across NSW thanks to the highly-infectious Omicron outbreak have meant holding a large event, even outside, would have provided unacceptable risk to the public.
The Parkes Elvis Festival released a statement this week highlighting its disappointment at the decision made by the Tamworth Country Music Festival, and the subsequent clash of dates for two of regional NSW's biggest festivals.
"COVID has been devastating for the events industry and we have been watching the Tamworth situation closely with our hearts going out to all those impacted by the latest outbreak," read the statement.
We have delayed our repsonse to make sure it a considered response, and also give them a chance to change their mindsParkes mayor Ken Keith on Tamworth's decision to move the Country Music Festival to the same weekend as the Parkes Elvis Festival
"We are extremely disappointed and in a state of absolute disbelief that the decision has been made to move Tamworth Country Music Festival to clash with Parkes Elvis Festival.
"The current circumstance was a foreseeable possibility and accordingly we announced our move on September 30, 2021.
"We are well into planning for the April dates with artists locked in, suppliers secured, market stall holders confirmed and tickets sold.
"We also know that many of our loyal fans attend both events and are extremely excited about the Festival we have in store for 2022," the statement added.
The Parkes Elvis Festival organisers were keen to point out how much the industry needed support and the fact the two festivals - which have significant participant crossover - are now clashing, means artists and suppliers have lost a huge source of a second income.
Significantly, it was also an entirely avoidable situation, the organisers believe.
"Artists and suppliers have had an extremely tough two years and need as much support as possible," the statement continued.
"The situation where they will now only attend one of these two major events is yet another blow to the industry and many will be severely impacted, all entirely avoidable and created by this last minute decision.
"Parkes Elvis Festival firmly believes in working cooperatively with other regional events and ensuring that our event promotes tourism throughout NSW.
The statement from the organisers concluded with a note of promise.
"Rest assured that the 2022 Parkes Elvis Festival will continue to be the incredible event we have planned," read the statement.
Cr Keith echoed the sentiments of organisers.
"Bewilderment, that they do that to the tourism and hospitality industry," Cr Keith said.
"The impact on the entertainment industry - artists, suppliers, stall holders and the like - it basically ... halved their opportunities to make money after a tough few years.
"Adam Harvey is booked in to the Parkes Elvis Festival, and he won't renege on that, so it'll impact both of us, obviously," Cr Keith added.
Cr Keith went on to say a lot of the disappointment stemmed from the fact the Parkes Shire Council have always taken the Tamworth Country Music Festival into account when planning for the Parkes Elvis Festival.
"We cooperated and moved our initial dates for 2022 and 2023 so they didn't clash, we've always advised them in advance with dates so they had plenty of notice," he said.
"They haven't afforded us the same treatment - the first I heard the dates were going to clash was in their press release.
"It's a reaction of disappointment, and we have delayed our repsonse to make sure it a considered response, and also give them a chance to change their minds.
"I will be writing a letter to the Tamworth City Council to ask them to reconsider their decision, given the way we have always been considerate with them.
"If they don't move the dates, we will have to look at political avenues.
"The state goverment and TourismNSW supply funding to both events so I can't imagine they'll be happy," Cr Keith said.
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