CANCELLED: Iconic Melon Fest falls victim to COVID
THE 2021 instalment of the world famous Chinchilla Melon Festival has been cancelled due to the pressures of coronavirus restrictions.
Held every two years in February, more than 20,000 punters flock to the Western Downs to partake in one of the most unique food festivals in Australia.
Founding committee member Darryl O'Leary stated that it was not only a sad day for Chinchilla, but for the wider Queensland and Australian melon industry.
"While our fingers were crossed the festival could run as planned in the hope that conditions would ease, public health and wellbeing must take a higher priority," he said.
"Unfortunately, we have had to make the difficult decision to suspend the Chinchilla Melon Festival."
Committee president Doug McNally said all members faced a difficult decision last night, one that had the health and safety of their community, visitors, and local businesses in mind.
"It is hard to believe that we have had to make this decision, and it most certainly has not been an easy decision to make," he said.
"Still the impacts of introducing COVID-19 to our community far outweigh the impacts cancelling the festival would have on our community."
Earlier this year Mr McNally said as much as the committee wanted to run the festival, it wasn't their decision to make.
"There are a lot of things in play at the moment, with federal and state government recommendations around the virus," Mr McNally said.
"We believe we can put the festival together in a very short period of time, we have a lot of experience putting the festival together, it'll only take us a few months if we get the go ahead."
Mr McNally said it was unlikely the date would be pushed back as the festival is highly dependant on the melon industry, and supporting local growers.
"Unfortunately it's run around the melon industry and the melon being available in February, it would cost a lot to import melons to Chinchilla for the festival but that is something we could possibly do if we had to," he said.