Ride operator Mark Forman had a quiet night after rain forced the cancellation of Gladstone Harbour Festival events on Sunday.
Ride operator Mark Forman had a quiet night after rain forced the cancellation of Gladstone Harbour Festival events on Sunday. Mike Richards

Cancelled harbour festival parade rescheduled for Friday

THE rain came and the parade went. Cyclone Ita might have been hundreds of kilometres away but its impact on Gladstone left the city's harbour festival organisers with no choice.

The plug was pulled about noon on the Sunday's opening day crown jewel - the parade down Goondoon St.

It also meant the cancellation of other events including the popular Junior Queen Quest.

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The carnival ride and stall operators were counting the cost of losing a day's earnings. Some expected it to be in the thousands of dollars.

The news was extra hard to take because the parade initially wasn't going to go ahead because of costs.

Sponsor Workforce International came to the rescue earlier this year, and the company said it would be there no matter when the parade was held.

It is rescheduled for Friday.

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"We have cancelled all of the proceedings for tonight, for the opening night of Gladstone Harbour Festival," Gladstone Festivals and Events event co-ordinator Angie Bettridge told The Observer on Sunday.

"Obviously, due to the weather conditions it was just too dangerous and far too wet to be able to have it on."

It was a severe blow for the largely volunteer workforce, which has laboured to bring this year's festival together.

Gladstone Visitor Information Centre worker John Fraser said he felt for the organisers.

"A lot of effort goes into it, and the people who are involved in organising and doing all the work must be very disappointed," he said.

"There's got to be a cost to it as well."

Clinton State School student Anna Duggan, 7, was disappointed the Gladstone Harbour Festival parade was cancelled.
Clinton State School student Anna Duggan, 7, was disappointed the Gladstone Harbour Festival parade was cancelled. Brenda Strong

Mr Fraser said events such as the Harbour Festival were important for the local community.

"This harbour festival is our major one for the year," he said. "It goes for a week and, in conjunction with the Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race, it's the major event.

"A lot of people that have left the district come back for this event.

"It communicates something to the outside world as to what Gladstone's all about."

Clinton State School had organised a "wildly colourful" Dr Seuss float in keeping with the street parade's "colourful carnival" theme.

Teacher Rebecca Duggan said she was proud of the students' efforts. And they were excited to be part of the parade.

"We made lots of truffula trees out of crepe paper; we had kids dressed up as the Lorax and the Cat in the Hat," she said.

"Unfortunately the weather hasn't turned out as we'd hoped.

"Kids had helped make signs so they were a little disappointed as were the grown-ups, but we understand.

"Still, there would be a lot of happy kids if it could go ahead."

Young people on school holidays were some of the most affected.

Eleven-year-old Bella Taylor and her friend Jamie Chidley, 10, were disappointed to find the festival site at the marina closed yesterday.

"Everyone wanted to come here but this cyclone stopped it," Bella said. "It's kind of a pity.

"We're in school holidays, so we really like coming to this.

"This festival is the best thing that's actually happened in the year. We just love coming here."

Bella Taylor, 11, and Jamie Chidley, 10, were disappointed the opening of their favourite event of the year, the Harbour Festival, was postponed on Sunday.
Bella Taylor, 11, and Jamie Chidley, 10, were disappointed the opening of their favourite event of the year, the Harbour Festival, was postponed on Sunday.

Ride operators and stallholders contemplated losses in forgone takings from what would have been the grand festival opening.

Gravitron's owner Chris Young had spent the week driving from Sydney to bring his ride back to Gladstone for the first time in 15 years.

Mr Young expects to lose thousands in forgone earnings.

The rain in Gladstone is the last in a string of postponed or cancelled jobs for his show ride business.

"Every single place we go there's rain," he said. "We bring it with us I reckon. It's all part of the job though.

"It's unfortunate it's raining now.

"But it's a week-long event, so hopefully if people don't want to come tonight they'll come another day."

After coming to the rescue with sponsorship that enabled the street parade to go ahead only a few weeks ago, Workforce International regional manager Robert Hope was disappointed for everyone involved.

But he said his enthusiasm and support were unwavering.

"I won't say I'm not disappointed, but there's no point getting upset," he said. ''You do what you can with what you've got."

The real cost was to the volunteers who had spent tireless hours preparing the parade and festival opening.

"They put a lot into it, and it's such a shame for them," he said.

"They were really up-beat about it though, and we're happy to help do it another time."

The queen quest and cocktail party will be held on Wednesday evening.



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