Covid claims Happy Days

May 11, 2020

It was with great sadness that the Bingara Special Events Committee, the organisers of the 2020 Bingara Happy Days Orange Festival, made the difficult decision to postpone the festival. The event, such an important date on Bingara’s calendar, will go ahead in June 2021.

Whilst it was optimistic to hold out on a decision to postpone until May, the Committee’s positivity that circumstances may have allowed some sort of celebration to continue was not rewarded. “Following announcements in Friday’s National Cabinet meeting, it became apparent that restrictions would not ease enough to allow for such an event,” say the Committee.

Twenty-two years ago the event was founded by resident Nancy MacInnes to bring the community together to help emphasise the importance of the town’s orange trees. Those trees were planted under the direction of the town’s mayor in the 1960’s to commemorate Bingara’s service men and women.

What started as a small festivity has grown to an event that, in recent years, attracted up to 10,000 people across the three-day weekend. The many visitors welcomed to town brought with them a welcome financial boost which will be unfortunately missed this year.

New acts Toni and the Rhythm Cats and The Zephyr Project were among a fantastic line-up of performers and attractions set to join returning DJ Grizzly Adams for this year’s festival. Although it was with regret, this fantastic line-up have now been rolled over to 2021.

Retailers, businesses, stallholders, suppliers and entertainers already impacted by the Coronavirus have coordinated with the organising committee and agreed to return for next year’s festival. Those that are involved were very understanding according to Gwydir Shire Council’s Marketing and Promotions Team Leader, Georgia Standerwick.

Stallholders who had already booked and paid for a site will be contacted by event organisers by the 30th May to arrange a full refund.

With this year marking 60 years of orange picking, organisers have been working with the Bingara Central School and RSL subbranch to come up with creative ways of continuing the tradition and paying respect to Bingara’s fallen soldiers.

With a firm date to be finalised in the coming weeks, the RSL sub-branch will read the ode and play The Last Post and Reveille over the loudspeaker at 11:00am. It is hoped that the sound will carry, and all Bingara residents will be asked to stand to attention in front of shops and houses as was done on ANZAC day.

Following this the school, class by class, will take turns to pick the fruit in the longstanding tradition that has brought joy to generations. In the afternoon the remainder of the community will be invited to pick at their leisure while maintaining the current social distancing advice.

In the meantime, people are encouraged to mark Friday 25th to Sunday 27th June 2021 in their calendar for next year’s festival, and the Bingara Special Events Committee are looking forward to welcoming everyone back for the 2021 Bingara Happy Days Orange Festival.