HOW do you host a street festival in the middle of a construction site? Wodonga’s about to find out.
The city’s council is this morning hosting a mini street party along the length of High Street, in a bid to encourage locals and visitors alike to step out and shop in the central business area.
High Street traders have lamented the loss of trade since the Elgin Boulevard realignment works began in mid-January.
The street has effectively been cut in two, and business owners say shoppers have been put off due to lack of parking and convenience.
Wodonga mayor Rod Wangman said today’s activities, designed to coincide with the Goods Shed Harvest festival at Junction Place, aimed to draw people back to the city centre.
“Clearly our traders are working really hard as the construction unfolds, but we implore all residents to come and help,” he said.
Cr Wangman said that while traders were finding the roadworks difficult, he believed most people were still shopping in the area and were willing to “take a few extra steps” to get to the stores they needed.
Traders have faced additional difficulties this week though — The Border Mail reported on Wednesday that rats were plaguing the street, likely displaced during the roadworks.
Cr Wangman said it was “unexpected” but part of what happened when old sites were torn down.
He preferred to look on the bright side and the difference the changes would make to the city.
“It is a difficult period but as the streets are renewed and parking is back in place, this will make it far more profitable for traders” he said.
Buskers, face-painters and balloon animal artists will be among those entertaining the crowd from 9am to 11am today, before the Harvest Festival begins.
A free breakfast will also be held outside Cafe Grove and there will be Music in the Park in Woodland Grove.
Editorial —page 30