One of the biggest events in the Southern Tablelands has been permanently cancelled.
The Collector Village Pumpkin Festival Committee made the decision with heavy hearts to retire the event at its meeting on Friday (4 September).
Uncertainty around COVID-19 restrictions made planning for next year’s festival and future festivals almost impossible, the committee said.
Festival committee president Gary Poile said it was a particularly tough call in light of the event’s significance to the Collector community and beyond.
“The Collector Village Pumpkin Festival has been an annual event for many families over the past 17 years and the closure of the festival will be sorely missed by many,” he said.
“But we had to face the reality that it is not feasible to continue to put in the enormous hours of work required to keep the event in mothballs with no certainty that we can ever return to ‘normal’.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was reaching a point where it was becoming difficult to accommodate the influx of visitors to the festival and provide the necessary infrastructure to ensure the safety of more than 15,000 visitors to our small village for the event.”
Since its inception in 2003, due to the hard work and planning of its dedicated committee, the Collector Village Pumpkin Festival has grown exponentially and attracted people from as far as Sydney, Canberra, the South Coast, Southern Highlands and Central West.
With those crowds, however, came increased logistical requirements including a full year of planning traffic management and negotiating with stakeholders including Upper Lachlan Shire Council, police, Transport for NSW and bus companies.
“Managing 150 market stalls, planning entertainment, organising competitions and logistics support for the event requires many months of planning by our volunteers. That’s in addition to maintaining marketing and the social media platforms which is continual. It became a huge undertaking,” Mr Poile said.
Mr Poile hoped that the closure of the event might lead to multiple, smaller events that highlighted and attracted people to the village of Collector.
“Our committee believes that the decision to retire the event will provide an opportunity for community and local businesses to run a wider variety of smaller events that will continue to attract visitors to the region,” he said.
Proceeds from the Collector Village Pumpkin Festival have benefited the village over the years, going to local community groups, the primary school and churches where financial support is often limited.