5 January 2023

Probing the polls: Christmas trees and Summernats - it must be January in Canberra!

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Summernats

Braddon’s been a traditional home for Summernats, but is it time for the Fringe to move on? Photo: File.

Canberrans are an organised bunch by the look of our most recent poll.

It’s 2023, and if everyone is telling the truth, those Christmas trees have been packed away within a week, not even lingering until the traditional 12th night on 6 January.

We asked, How long do you leave the Christmas decorations up? A total of 429 readers roused themselves from their post-Christmas ham and pavlova haze (and the Boxing Day Test) long enough to vote.

Your choices were: Before school goes back. Or after. When’s Easter in 2023? This received 25 per cent of the total, or 109 votes. Alternatively, you could vote Right after Christmas. It’s a new year, time to move on. This was a clear winner with 75 per cent of the votes, or 320 readers.

This week, if it’s January in Canberra, it must be time for Summernats.

Come this weekend, EPIC will fill with dedicated car lovers (and probably a fair bit of smoke too, since the burnout competition continues). Summernats 35 begins at EPIC from Thursday, 5 January, to Sunday, 8 January. Lonsdale Street will be closed between 4 pm and 11 pm on Friday, 6 January, and Saturday, 7 January, for the Fringe Festival.

Summernats owner Andy Lopez has worked hard to change the event’s image since he took ownership in 2010 and says this year’s Summernats will be the “biggest ever”, starting with Thursday’s cruise up and down Northbourne Avenue.

“We have 2700 cars booked in – we actually had to put up the ‘sold out’ sign for car entries for the first time,” Mr Lopez said.

“It’s a great indication of the strength of the event and the love for it.

“One thing about Summernats is it shows off Canberra in a completely different light,” Andy told Region.

“For that one weekend of the year, it becomes Australia’s capital of cool.”

READ ALSO Summernats returns with a roar, bigger than ever before

While the measure of cool may differ depending on where you’re sitting, there’s no doubt that bringing in tens of thousands of visitors from interstate and overseas over the four days is a good thing for the local economy, generating many millions in direct and indirect revenue.

The event is now more family-friendly and focuses on showcasing the effort and money Australia’s petrolheads pour into their cars.

Following the cruise along Northbourne, EPIC becomes car central, thrumming to the roar of the engines as a relatively contained site for the revelry.

The clash of cultures is more evident in Braddon, traditionally home to repair shops and car dealerships, but now more of a hipster haven for restaurants, coffee shops and designer boutiques.

The suburb will host hundreds of the entrant vehicles for the free Fringe Festival car show and the City Renewal Authority (CRA) says business welcomes the trade at a quiet time of the year.

But how well do the two crowds mix? The Lonsdale St cruise attracts noise complaints on a regular basis and restaurant patrons are frustrated by even greater parking issues and street closures.

Should the Fringe move somewhere else? Would businesses in Anketell St, Tuggeranong, or Belconnen welcome the boost in trade?

Alternatively, motor racing fans point out that Wakefield Park in Goulburn was used on only a handful of days. Although it’s now permanently closed, a petition requesting reconsideration attracted the most signatures in NSW Parliament history. Could Summernats relocate in part to Lilac City, where it would presumably be welcomed with open arms?

Has Summernats outgrown the Braddon tradition, or does it still have its traditional place in the city centre as a reminder of Braddon’s semi-industrial roots?

Have your say in our poll this week. Our question is:

Does Summernats still belong in Braddon?

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Oh, where did my pearls go?

I need to clutch them whilst someone is making noise outside for a couple of hours.

How ever will I survive! It’s outrageous, we should only have flower shows.

I was just thinking the same thing.

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