"Support it or lose it": Horsham council calls for Horsham Fishing Competition help

WINNER: Mark McPhee, with Brydon, 5, and Khaia McPhee, won a boat at this year's Horsham Fishing Competition. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
WINNER: Mark McPhee, with Brydon, 5, and Khaia McPhee, won a boat at this year's Horsham Fishing Competition. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

HORSHAM Rural City Council has called on the community to support the Horsham Fishing Competition or risk losing it.

The competition committee announced this week the event could not go ahead next year because of a lack of committee members.

The group has stopped planning for next year.

Horsham Mayor David Grimble said council would try to keep the iconic event in Horsham. 

“We would welcome the opportunity to meet with the fishing competition committee,” he said.

“I would be happy to facilitate a meeting and see if we can brainstorm how we might assist and to get a better understanding of the lack of volunteer issues.

“If they don’t contact us we’ll certainly contact them.

“Council has been a strong supporter of the fishing competition for many years and will continue to be.”

The competition started in 1972 and attracts thousands of people annually from the Wimmera and beyond to the banks of the Wimmera River during the Labour Day long weekend in March.

Almost 2300 people entered the 2014 competition.

Competition secretary Prue Beltz said the committee needed at least 20 fully-committed members to make the event possible.

“We’ve got 14 or 15 people, but we only have about seven or eight who come to most meetings,” she said.

“We’ve got a good committee and when we get close to the competition they all come out and work hard, but we need more than that.

“Unless we get more people willing to help, we just physically can’t do it.

“We’re not prepared to not do it properly.”

Ms Beltz said the competition would consider going into recess for 2015.

Cr Grimble called for people to offer the event their support.

He said it provided major economic and promotional benefits for the region.

“This is a call for attention for people to get involved and volunteer for what has been such a great event for Horsham,” he said.

“We went through a period where we had no water in the river.

“It’s taken a lot for the committee to reinvigorate the event.

“It would be a shame to lose that through a lack of volunteer support.”

Ms Beltz said it could be an area where other service clubs could step in.

“The committee doesn’t want to see the competition go. We think it’s important – it’s great for Horsham,” Ms Beltz said.

“What we’re looking for is for people to help us out, or a community organisation that might want to take it over.”

Cr Grimble agreed.

“I would like to see what kind of volunteer support we can attract and what we might be able to attract from other service clubs,” he said.

Cr Grimble said if the event was cancelled it would be a massive loss for Horsham.

“There’s no question about the value these really significant and well-run events bring to Horsham,” he said.

“It’s an iconic event that puts Horsham on the map and gives visitors and fishing enthusiasts a reason to visit Horsham during the long weekend.

“We don’t want to lose events like this.”