New Queensland festival passes vaccine & tourism tests
Plans by the inaugural Savannah In The Round to be the first Australian music festival to offer on-site vaccination against COVID-19 proved to be a success, and could pave the way for others to follow.
It also managed to live up to its aim of generating tourism dollars for the tropical Far North Queensland economy.
The event, which ran from October 1 to 3 at the at the Mareeba Rodeo Grounds an hour out of Cairns, worked with Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service for the pop-up service on its first day.
“The heath authorities were looking at 200 vaccinations through the day, and we reached that,” festival director James Dein of promoter Sound Australia told TMN.
“There were two tents, and both were at it all day. There was no reluctance in people stepping forward.”
Savannah In The Round reached its capped audience target of 11,000 over the three days.
“They were seasoned festival go-ers, that’s for sure. Judging from the response to the music, they had been waiting for festivals which had been cancelled or postponed.
“The whole atmosphere was just electric.”
With a core age group of 40 to 45, the festival also generated $2.5 million to $3 million in tourism dollars, with patrons revealing plans to holiday in Cairns, Port Douglas, the Great Barrier Reef and rainforests before and after.
The tourism impact is expected to grow in coming years. Last year, before it got cancelled, ticket buyers were from all over Australia.
“But with COVID it became a Queensland-centric festival. I estimate it was 50% from the region, and 50% from outside the region,” Dein said.
COVID restrictions also saw the festival lose 23 acts three weeks out.
Many of the original country acts had to be replaced by blues and rock acts such as John Butler, Sheppard, San Cisco, Ian Moss and Sneaky Sound System joining country royalty Lee Kernaghan, Troy Cassar-Daley and John Wiliamson.
The 2022 version will expand camping areas and have an international headliner, Dein said.