THE iconic community and tourism festival which put Chinchilla on the map is the latest event to have been squashed by Covid restrictions.

The Chinchilla Melon Festival organising committee announced the event, planned for February 2021 and expected to have attracted up to 20,000 attendees, has been cancelled.

The biennial event will instead be held in 2022, setting a new pattern for the festival to now be held on even-numbered years.

Founding member and watermelon grower Darryl O’Leary said the committee voted to suspend the event because travel restrictions and complying with Covid regulations were “unworkable”.

“Today is a sad day, not only for Chinchilla, but for wider Queensland and Australia’s melon industry,” Mr O’Leary said.

“While our fingers were crossed the festival could run as planned in the hope that conditions would ease, public health and wellbeing must take a higher priority.

“Unfortunately, we have had to make the difficult decision to suspend the Chinchilla Melon Festival 2021.”

The Chinchilla Melon Festival was first held in 1994 to boost the morale of the town as it endured crippling drought. 

The celebration has gone on to become a major economic and tourism boon for the town, attracting tens of thousand of national and international visitors.

Committee president Doug McNally said “Melon Festival committee members faced a difficult decision … one that had the health and safety of our community, visitors, volunteers, and local businesses front of mind”.

“It is hard to believe that we have had to make this decision, and it most certainly has not been an easy decision to make,” he said.

“Still, the impacts of introducing COVID-19 to our community far outweigh the impacts cancelling the festival would have on our community.”

MORE TO COME.

BETTER TIMES: Montage of the 2013 Chinchilla Melon Festival. SOURCE: DanielSPEAKING

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