Lithgow Ironfest founder looking to host second event in Sydney

CONQUERING SYDNEY: The festival director and founder of Ironfest Macgregor Ross is looking further than Showground. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.
CONQUERING SYDNEY: The festival director and founder of Ironfest Macgregor Ross is looking further than Showground. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

The founder of Ironfest, artist Macgregor Ross, said he is keen to start a second Ironfest event in Sydney and will be touring an “iconic Sydney arts institution” as a possible location in coming weeks. 

Mr Ross said creating a second event would not be to the detriment of the original festival in Lithgow.

“I don’t think it would be detrimental,” he said. 

“There’s a possibility that it could be complementary. For example, Mudgee used to have a wine festival held at Balmoral Beach [in Sydney].

THINKING BIG: Founding festival director of Ironfest Macgregor Ross. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

THINKING BIG: Founding festival director of Ironfest Macgregor Ross. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

“It would be more like ‘Lithgow Ironfest at somewhere’, working as a sort of flagship promotion.” 

With attendance to Lithgow’s Ironfest increasing, Mr Ross said a second event in spring would be one way to increase participation while keeping the main festival at Lithgow Showground, which he said is reaching capacity. 

“Saturday has always been the big day, so we’re looking at ticketing strategies like limiting tickets for Saturday so people are encouraged to come on Sunday, or way down the line we might have to limit overall ticket sales.

“I am still very keen to have a second Ironfest, that’s also a way of spreading the visitation.”

CROWD: Ironfest participants check out the costume competition. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

CROWD: Ironfest participants check out the costume competition. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

Mr Ross is the owner of the Ironfest trademark which he licenses to the not-for-profit association Ironfest Inc.

He is employed by Ironfest Inc as festival director. 

Rich Evans, the president of Ironfest Inc, said the association’s committee had not formed an official position on a second event.

“There will always be an Ironfest in Lithgow,” he said. 

“If there are events under the Ironfest brand name elsewhere, Lithgow will remain its spiritual home.”

ON GUARD: An American Civil War reenactor keeps watch. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

ON GUARD: An American Civil War reenactor keeps watch. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

Mr Evans said it was his personal opinion that showcasing Ironfest in ‘other markets’ could benefit Lithgow’s festival, but the committee would discuss the possibility in coming weeks.

Mr Ross said it was likely an auspicing body separate to Ironfest Inc would be sought for further events. 

“The second event can’t put the first event at risk,” he said. 

“It may be the case that local [Lithgow] people say, ‘hey, that’s something we want to be part of’, but it would have to have a separate budget.” 

Ironfest will continue to take place at Lithgow Showground, Mr Evans said. 

“Council have been very supportive of us. 

“I think we are on the same page about sustaining us at the Showground and what needs to be done at the Showground. I don’t think there’s any question about that.” 

ON YER BIKE: John Kitchen of Bathurst shows off his bicycles. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

ON YER BIKE: John Kitchen of Bathurst shows off his bicycles. Picture: PHOEBE MOLONEY.

Michael McGrath, manager of people and services at Lithgow City Council, said Council had not pulled Ironfest’s funding, as was reported on some social media pages. 

He said council staff had proposed a new policy that would remove recurring financial assistance for organisations. The policy instead asks the 13 local organisations, including Ironfest, that currently receive annual assistance from council to submit an application each year. 

“It’s not really singling anyone out, it’s just saying we don’t have money that goes every year to the same organisations anymore, rather it will be based on application,” Mr McGrath said. 

He said the policy had not been approved yet and would be put on exhibition for public submissions.

Ironfest currently receives $12,300 from council per annum. 

Related stories: