Ballarat Rockabilly festival cancels as funding dries up

A lack of sponsorship and financial issues were behind Ballarat Beat Rockabilly Festival’s decision to cancel next year’s event.

Running for the last eight years, the festival attracted 10,000 people to the Victorian town in February at its peak, with its cancellation following on the heels of the Lost Trades Fair and the Australian Jazz Convention.

The City of Ballarat had invested $15,000 in the 2019 festival, $10,000 less than what festival organisers originally requested. The festival cost about $150,000 a year to stage, according to the organisers who made the announcement on Facebook this week.

“We just couldn’t take on the festival as it was without the kind of funding we had enjoyed previously,” organiser Mark Browning told The Courier.

The City of Ballarat said it was working with organisers to ensure a similar event continued in 2020.

“We have supported the Ballarat Beat Rockabilly Festival since its inception and are keen to safeguard Ballarat’s rockabilly tradition,” they wrote in a statement.

“We appreciate the workload and cost of hosting such a large public event and thank The George Hotel and organisers for their efforts.

“This is a private enterprise decision which is out of our control and council will continue to provide appropriate support.”

Browning indicated he would support any other parties who were interested in keeping the festival going.

Previous festival participants Lana-Rose Events, who hosted the Ballarat Pin Up competition, have said they will host a three-day event at the Ballarat Mining Exchange across the newly vacant February dates.

“We’ve got a very exciting event coming up that same weekend in the Mining Exchange, which we will transform in to the Flamingo Room and run the Ballarat Pin Up competition,” Tracey Spencer from Lana-Rose Events told The Courier.