Council debriefs businesses on Lithgow's Halloween Festival

HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL: Zoe Dorian and Joy Atkinson from Sydney. Picture: KIRSTY HORTON.
HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL: Zoe Dorian and Joy Atkinson from Sydney. Picture: KIRSTY HORTON.

Council held its debrief and first planning session for Halloween 2018 for local businesses on Wednesday, February 7.

Among the ideas suggested at the meeting were introducing a pumpkin throwing competition, a house decorating contest, engaging larger brands for sponsorship and schools ‘adopting’ shopfronts to decorate.

Lithgow’s acting tourism manager Simon Francis presented feedback received from festival-goers last year. 

He said responses in the survey handed out at the October festival recommended more lighting and rides. 

PRESENTATION: Acting tourism manager Simon Francis. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

PRESENTATION: Acting tourism manager Simon Francis. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

“The rides themselves were well received,” he said.

“Feedback suggested spacing the rides out and having more rides.” 

“There were lots of positive comments about the band.”

The ghost train provided by Lachlan Valley Rail sold out and Mr Francis indicated the railway would be interested in operating the train again after its success. 

He said food was also commented upon with punters saying there needed to be more food stalls as there were long waits for meals. He suggested encouraging more food vendors at the event. 

“Although its still our priority to look after locals [businesses] first,” he said. 

Andrew Muir, council’s director of economic development and environment, said estimates using the number of mobile phones in the area calculated approximately 11,000 people participated in the festival last year. 

He also announced that the festival would take place on Saturday, October 27 of this year.

ATTENDEES: Council staff said they were considering how to engage more business owners. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

ATTENDEES: Council staff said they were considering how to engage more business owners. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

The meeting was held at the Lithgow Workies on Wednesday night and was attended by roughly ten business owners, a few residents and councillors Cr Stephen Lesslie, Cr Stephen Ring and Cr Marie Statham, as well as senior council staff. 

The group discussed getting more community members involved in Halloween 2018. 

Resident Susan Barley suggested engaging schools further in creating decorations and props as well as hosting a house decorating competition throughout the Lithgow region. 

Members of the Lithgow District Chamber of Commerce and WILD recommended seeking sponsorship from larger brands as well as filling spaces in the Main Street with interactive games for children.

Employing a co-ordinator who was solely responsible for the organisation of Halloween was also recommended. 

Cr Marie Statham asked about trying to get funding from Destination NSW, Mr Muir replied that funding had been sought in previous years but applications had not been successful and that they would try again this year. 

ORGANISERS: Lithgow Council's new economic development manager Andrew Powrie and Andrew Muir: Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

ORGANISERS: Lithgow Council's new economic development manager Andrew Powrie and Andrew Muir: Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

A business owner (who asked not to be named) questioned how businesses who had not yet seen any financial benefits from Halloween could be encouraged to get involved. 

Paul Phillips of A Reader’s Heaven suggested businesses around Main Street divide into sub-committees to organise for Halloween.  

Andrew Muir said at the close of the meeting that council staff would develop an engagement strategy to get more residents and businesses involved in the Halloween festivities in response to the meeting.  

He said council would be “hosting further discussions throughout the year”. 

He said discussion of the budget allocation for Halloween 2018 were still a “couple of months off”. 

Residents and businesses interested in getting involved with planning Halloween 2018 or who have ideas they would like to share are encouraged to email council@lithgow.nsw.gov.au to be placed on a contact list.