THE success of the inaugural Robert Burns Scottish Festival has set the standard for what is expected to become an international event and major stimulus for Camperdown businesses.
Corangamite Shire Council has committed to making the three-day festival an annual event for Camperdown after hundreds of visitors enjoyed the wide range of Scottish cultural activities across the town, according to community relations manager Glen Bernoth.
The festival line-up included a bagpipe competition, whisky tasting, live music, children’s activities, a market and book swap, a golf ambrose and a country bush dance.
With multiple events attracting several hundred patrons, Mr Bernoth said the council was pleased with the festival’s attendance levels across the weekend.
“All of the feedback has been really positive,” he told The Standard.
“The delegates of the Robert Burns Association of the Pacific Rim who came for their AGM have indicated a willingness to come back and a preference to involve Camperdown in that activity again.
“There are people definitely pleased with getting lots of live music into the Corangamite Shire, which perhaps hasn’t been a core focus of the council in the past.”
Shire mayor Matt Makin said he hoped to see the festival develop and attract an international audience.
“It’s certainly identified a niche so we’ll certainly consider ways to do that,” Cr Makin said.
“People are so passionate about their heritage so if we can help them celebrate it, all the better.
Mr Bernoth said there was potential for the festival to bring international visitors, given the wide network associated with the Robert Burns following.
“Even at this festival we had people attend from Fremantle, certainly from Melbourne, Bendigo, South Australia and a few from Queensland, so it’s already reaching small numbers from interstate,” he said.
“As a community, we’re on a bit of a journey of gaining global traction.
“There’s a relationship with the Burns fraternity we’re continuing to build on.
“That’s a continuing and evolving relationship and the festival is hoping to galvanise that to introduce more people to Camperdown.”
Hampden Hotel owner Simon Myers said it had been a busy weekend for his staff, with the Whisky Bar proving a popular event on Saturday while festival artists performed most of Saturday afternoon and into the early hours.
“We had eight different types of whisky available, and the local Timboon distillery’s whisky was a bit of a hit,” he said.
“People could just sit around and listen to the music.
“The Camperdown Cruise Rockabilly Festival in October is the next time we’d get that amount of people.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend and it’d be good to see it as an annual event.
“It could get bigger and bigger each year and I think the shire did all the ground work so should get the praise for the weekend.