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BEECHWORTH’S Celtic Festival appears doomed unless it can get an unprecedented flood of community support.
Two crisis meetings have been held this week to try to find ways to prop up the popular annual three-day event, last held in November.
Organising committee stalwart Harry Thomas bowed out of the group on Monday night, but pledged to help the newcomers in any way possible.
A group of seven people met again last night to try to thrash out some solutions.
The festival, first held in 1995, came close to being abandoned in 2004, 2008 and 2011 but was saved each time.
Mr Thomas said a lot of Monday’s meeting was spent talking about how the festival should run.
Instead, he said the priority should be to work out “how you get it to a point where it can run”, though he had little confidence that could happen.
“That’s because of a lack of contribution and support by the people and businesses of Beechworth,” he said.
Mr Thomas said he had received countless phone calls from people expressing an opinion about the festival.
“But if I say to these people ‘how about you come along and give us the advice and help us run the festival?’ the response is ‘I’m too busy for that’,” he said.
Mr Thomas, who until Monday was the organising committee secretary, said the festival was worth millions of dollars a year to Beechworth because of the large crowds it attracted.
About $10,000 of the festival’s annual $70,000 cost is drawn from state and federal grants and from various local groups.
“It went down as low as $4500 last year with Indigo Council giving us $1000,” he said.
Mr Thomas said there was some support for the festival from businesses in town.
“They might give us $1500 or $500 or $100 — it takes a lot to get to that $70,000,” he said.
“Where we get it from is from selling tickets and that sort of thing for the event, for the activities that go on.
“Frankly, if we can’t get the big bands and the big name attractions — because they all cost us money — then people are not going to buy the tickets.
“And indeed that’s what happened last year.”
The profit in November was just $400.