THE sun has finally set on Wintersun in Tweed Heads and Coolangatta.
The iconic rock ‘n’ roll nostalgia festival has been snatched from the twin towns and will now travel regional New South Wales for at least three years after a deal was struck between festival organisers and the State Government.
Coastal town Port Macquarie will host the now-travelling festival next year with bids soon to open for the 2012 host.
Festival director Barry McNamara announced the long awaited and debated decision yesterday morning.
“It’s a huge change. I’m disappointed that we’ve had to move but I’m very excited at the same time,” Mr McNamara said.
“The NSW Government has just jumped behind the event.
“One chapter has closed on Wintersun but a new and exciting future awaits.”
In the past years, Mr McNamara has criticised local businesses for not supporting the event despite reaping the financial benefits of an estimated $25 million injection into the local economy, as well as a lack of support from the Queensland Government.
The shock announcement yesterday will make this year’s Wintersun in Tweed Heads and Coolangatta, scheduled for June 4 to June 14, the last one for the foreseeable future.
“We still want to make 2010 a fantastic event,” Mr McNamara said.
“It will still be possible for the Gold Coast and Tweed councils to put in a joint bid for the event, but no one place can hold the event for more than two years in a row.”
Wintersun was founded in Coolangatta and Tweed Heads in 1978 as a local festival before it adopted the nostalgia theme in 1988.
Every year since it has attracted upwards of 80,000 rock ‘n’ roll enthusiasts driving thousands of hot rod and classic cars looking to relive the old days for two weeks in June.
In past years Mr McNamara has publicly discussed the idea of taking Wintersun on the road.
He tested the waters last year with a Wintersun side show in Victorian country town Mildura.
NSW Arts Minister Virginia Judge yesterday said the government and Events NSW had been working to secure the festival over the past 18 months.
“The Wintersun festival is set to become a high value regional event exclusive to NSW,” Ms Judge said.
The deal specifies an initial three-year period with the option to extend for a further six years.
Southern Gold Coast chamber of commerce president Gail O’Neill said she had been expecting the announcement for the past six months.
“It’s a very disappointing loss for this area,” Ms O’Neill said.
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