PYRENEES Shire Mayor Tanya Kehoe says organisers could simply not guarantee patron safety after recent bushfires near Lexton, which have forced the postponement of the Rainbow Serpent Festival.
Cr Kehoe says a multi-agency review of the efficacy of Rainbow Serpent Festival 2020 this week found that the event could not be safely held at Lexton on Australia Day long weekend.
"The safety of patrons and staff has always been the number one priority for the Rainbow Serpent Festival," Pyrenees Shire Council Mayor Tanya Kehoe said.
"We share the Rainbow Serpent Festival's disappointment that the event could not be held, but are looking forward to working with them on the new-look Rainbow Serpent Festival 2020 and welcoming festival goers back to Lexton later in the year."
Festival organisers have announced plans to hold the 2020 Festival in two stages, with a one-day event in Melbourne on January 26, and a second event at Lexton over Easter.
Festival organisers have also announced plans to assist with the recovery following the fire, with community- related events including tree planting, a working bee, and the delayed opening of the Servo@23 Arts Hub in Beaufort.
"This was a difficult call to make, but it was the correct call based on the current state of emergency in Victoria," Cr Kehoe said.
"We thank Festival organisers for putting patron safety first, and Festival patrons for their patience while this decision was made."
The Lexton-Ben Major Fire burned approximately 3000 hectares on December 20 and 21 2019.
Pyrenees Shire Council will present its Recovery Implementation Plan at the Council Meeting on Tuesday January 21
ORGANISERS of the Rainbow Serpent Festival say they have had no option but to reschedule this year's event due to recent fires at Lexton which damaged part of the venue.
In a statement put on its website on Wednesday night, organisers say they will instead run a one-day event on Australia Day in Melbourne before inviting revellers to return over the Easter weekend for a special 'Regen' edition which aims to showcase what the festival has to offer.
The statement reads:
"Firstly, we'd like to thank the Rainbow community for your incredible patience during these stressful times. No one could have predicted the intensity of the fires we've witnessed around the country over the last two weeks and it's been a sobering experience for us all.
"During this time, our key stakeholders have been busy using their expertise where they are needed the most. Particularly, the CFA.
"It hasn't been an easy decision to know what is the right path forward - as much as we all love RSF, the health and safety of patrons and crew is our number one priority.
"This is key to any decisions made and of course, we always consider our impact and commitment to the land and the local community.
"This morning we undertook a meeting and inspection onsite with the CFA, Victoria Police, Forest Fire Management Victoria and Pyrenees Council staff. Due to a number of safety concerns stemming from the fire that affected the site and the wider bushfire impacts across the country, it was agreed that holding RSF over the scheduled weekend in Lexton simply isn't the right thing to do."
The statement said the two new events would honour the spirit of the festival.
"The two events will be treated as Rainbow Serpent Festival 2020 with your tickets gaining entry to both.
"(In Melbourne) Multiple stages hosting the majority of special guest performers from the original lineup. There is still quite a lot of work to do to rearrange schedules and travel arrangements so please bear with us for a couple of days before confirming these details.
"(At Lexton) A special multi-day event on site during the Easter long weekend, showcasing the best that Rainbow has to offer.
"This event is important for the rebuilding of the local communities that were directly impacted by the fires and boosting their local economy. As well as your Rainbow favourites, we'll be hosting a number of community related events including tree planting, a community working bee and the delayed opening of the Servo@23 Arts Hub.
"We're looking into how we can best use these events to drive a community fundraising effort for the bushfires and will confirm those details in the coming days."
For people unable to attend either or both events, the organisers say they will announce details for full and partial refunds n coming days.
"We ask everyone to please be sympathetic to the needs and wellbeing of the broader community at this time but also the incredible strain our crew are currently experiencing in trying to work towards an outcome that is acceptable, enjoyable and safe," the statement said.
"By supporting us and attending both these events you are helping to secure the future of Rainbow Serpent Festival and our continued work in partnership with the Pyrenees community."