12 January 2022

COVID spread forces SouthFest in the Suburbs to be postponed till spring

| Ian Bushnell
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SouthFest is a celebration of the Tuggeranong community, and the Suburbs event was meant to be a safer way of doing that during the pandemic. Photo: File.

COVID-19 has felled another community event with organisers deciding to push the celebration of all things Tuggeranong – SouthFest in the Suburbs – out to November in the face of rising case numbers in the ACT.

The event, which was slated for February 2022, is itself a response to the pandemic. It was designed to minimise the risk of spreading the virus by running a smaller scale and dispersed version of the annual SouthFest, which traditionally brings thousands of people together in the Tuggeranong Town Centre.

Tuggeranong Community Council president Jeff Bollard said it was a difficult decision and not one taken lightly, but the health and safety of the community, volunteers and businesses involved came first.

“We were not prepared to risk the wellbeing of the community by trying to stage an event,” Mr Bollard said. “We have a duty of care to the people who support us. We don’t want an event that becomes a super spreader.”

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Mr Bollard said running a COVID-safe event did not seem practical, especially with potential volunteer and staff shortages from COVID infections or those forced to isolate due to exposure.

He said people were very cautious and numbers were generally down everywhere at venues and events.

Attendance at New Year’s events was down, Summernats made it through with smaller crowds, the 2022 Multicultural Festival has already been cancelled, and now there must be doubts about how next month’s Canberra Show will proceed.

“People are just so sensitive about going places,” Mr Bollard said.

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It is a disappointing outcome for organisers who had about 50 events lined up, including food trucks, parties at local shops, and a whole range of organisations and local businesses showcasing their activities and wares.

“You sit there with your crystal ball,” Mr Bollard said. “We thought we were going to be good in February when we started putting this together in June last year.

“We’re not in a position to host a full SouthFest in November, but we think we’ve got a viable chance of bringing together a SouthFest in the Suburbs event.”

The council has been working closely with the ACT Government and funding will again be rolled over to keep the event alive.

“We hope that by November we will all be ready and able to come out en masse to connect with our community, support local business and celebrate life in the Tuggeranong Valley safely and with gusto,” Mr Bollard said.

To stay up to date, visit SouthFest.

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Sorry Tina, Summernats would have been approved by the ACT Government and it is the government and big business that would have made a lot of money. The Tuggeranong Community Council is a non profit, non government organisation supporting the local community. Southfest is about having a safe and enjoyable event for the local community not about making a lot of money.

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