THE south-west will get a welcome tourism boost this long weekend with big crowds arriving for a series of major events.
The tourism influx will be a handy economic lift after the setbacks of a sluggish Christmas retail season, business losses caused by the Warrnambool Telstra exchange fire and the collapse of the Banksia finance company.
As well as the traditional Port Fairy Folk Festival and Warrnambool’s annual Labour Day weekend sport competitions and dog trials, the city will also play host to the Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) state urban championships.
Warrnambool Fire Brigade spokesman David Ferguson said the VFBV event was expected to attract about 3000 people to Friendly Societies’ Park for three days of competition.
More than 60 urban teams from throughout Victoria and Western Australia will compete in events involving fitness and speed with hoses, ladders, hydrants and putting water on to targets.
Some of the action will take place on platforms, high above the ground.
Competitors will use hose reels and water carts that featured in the brigades’ early years as well as modern fire trucks.
The championships will also provide a memorable spectacle for the public with competing brigades marching in a torchlight procession through Warrnambool’s central business district tomorrow night.
Brigades will be assessed on their marching proficiency in the procession.
With each brigade carrying a kerosene lamp, the torchlight procession will start at 8.30pm and proceed from the Liebig/Koroit streets intersection, north along Liebig to Lava, Kepler and Koroit streets and south along Liebig to the Civic Green.
Mr Ferguson said brigades were keen to come to Warrnambool because its seaside offered a great place to relax after the day’s competitions.
The seaside will be a popular place this weekend with temperatures in the 30s forecast.
Also bringing in a big crowd will be the Warrnambool Dog Training School’s obedience, agility and jumping trials tomorrow and Sunday at Harris Reserve.
A record 1200 entries have been received from across Victoria, South Australia and NSW from canine owners keen to show their pets’ skills in the expected hot weather.
Warrnambool Dog Training School co-ordinator Margo Salmon said it had grown into one of the biggest trials in Victoria. “This is a huge weekend for us,” she said.
“The competition has been running for at least 20 years and we find dog owners just love coming to Warrnambool.”
Events start at 8.30am tomorrow and Sunday.
Warrnambool’s reputation for great Labour Day weekend sports competitions will also be enhanced with the 39th annual seaside volleyball competition.
Sixty-five teams from across Victoria and interstate have entered in the weekend tournament to be held at the Warrnambool stadium.
The competition is organised by the Warrnambool Volleyball Association which will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a function at the stadium tomorrow afternoon.
The weekend sporting activities also include the annual Warrnambool Lawn Tennis Club’s open tournament which this year will involve more than 740 players in 1019 matches across its three days of competition.
Music fans commuting to this weekend’s Port Fairy Folk Festival will also be among those boosting the bookings across the district’s accommodation places.