Love it or hate it, Shepparton’s annual auto fest, Springnats is here to stay.
Twenty-four years after the first event was on in the north of Shepparton, the Springnats continues to draw crowds from across the state and beyond.
Undoubtedly, the event has had a chequered history with crowd-control problems, noise, traffic infringements and sadly a fatality on Wyndham St in 2000.
However, since a clampdown by police on the consumption of alcohol in public and a move to the Shepparton Showgrounds in 2009, the Springnats has grown to become a family-friendly event.
While Springnats crowd numbers are nowhere near the claimed highs of 45000 and upwards more than decade ago, today’s crowds are better behaved and much more manageable.
Shepparton’s Fryers St was buzzing on Saturday afternoon as gleaming cars paraded in front of hundreds of admirers, including many young children. This is the happy family-friendly face of the Springnats.
Of course, there is another face. The burnouts and drag racing at the Shepparton Showgrounds are a large part of the thrill of Springnats for many people.
Unfortunately, for many living within earshot and breathing space of the showgrounds, the smoke and noise become intolerable intrusions into their domestic life. Springnats supporters will say it is only one weekend in the year, while those living near the showgrounds will say it is one weekend too many.
When the event moved to the Showgrounds in 2009, then-Mayor Geoff Dobson said it would be a one-year trial.
Cr Dobson said the council, police and Springnats promoter Les Adams would assess whether it would be offered a permanent home at the venue.
Seven years later it seems the Springnats are a permanent annual fixture at the showgrounds.
However, perhaps next year’s 25th anniversary event might be a good time to reassess the impact of the event on the lives of nearby residents.
Meanwhile, we hope the Springnats remains a noisy, colourful and iconic Shepparton event for many years to come.