The announcement of a music festival for Shepparton later this year will be met with loud applause and much anticipation.
For years we have lagged behind other regional centres such as Bendigo, Echuca, Tocumwal, Meredith, Lexton, Port Fairy, Tallarook and Marysville which have all managed to create a crowd-pulling music event on their annual calendars.
The decision to make November’s Land of Plenty festival family-friendly presents challenges, but we believe it is ultimately the right decision.
A number of the above towns have established successful music events based firmly on music fans with specific tastes.
The difficulty for council and its selected event partner Red Hill Entertainment is to deliver an event that appeals to adult music fans and has value for families with children as well.
This is likely to limit the choice of music acts which can be presented in a family-friendly environment.
Creating the right balance between hard-core music fans and families will be difficult but not impossible.
A lot will depend on the choice of acts on the program.
We await this delicate decision from organisers with anticipation.
We also note the festival is planned as a ‘‘destination’’ event meaning a portion of the audience is expected to be drawn from outside the region.
We believe that for any audience to travel — particularly a Melburnian audience — something unique must be on offer.
Something that metro audiences cannot get in their own backyard.
It must also present good value for money.
A $99 general admission price tag would seem to be a good price for a day out compared to some other one-day festivals.
But this comes with the proviso that the program is one worth paying and travelling for.
As with any music festival, there will potentially be teething problems in the first year: parking, allocation of drinking areas, seating, and noise, to mention a few.
But all these will no doubt be ironed out as the organisers gain traction and support.
There will undoubtedly be objections from people who see no value in council’s involvement in entertainment events.
But if the balance is right, if the program has wide enough appeal, and if the weather holds, Shepparton could at last mark its place on the musical map of Australia.