About 600 nippers will compete at Port Fairy’s East Beach on Friday at an inaugural Australia Day carnival focused on fun and participation.
Surf lifesaving clubs from Port Campbell, Portland, Warrnambool and Port Fairy will compete in the event.
Port Fairy Surf Lifesaving Club nippers co-ordinator and event organiser Nicole Dwyer said the focus was on safety and fun.
“We’re trying to create an environment that gives all nippers a chance to compete in a friendly environment, in a less competitive and pressured environment,” Dwyer said.
She said some of the carnivals held around the Surf Coast and Melbourne beaches which were a long way away for local families to travel and were more competitive.
“It’s for all ages and abilities. The main message is we don’t want people to feel pressured or anxious about competing in the carnival.
“We want it to be a fun day. We want to see safe smiling kids.”
The Port Fairy competition is for nippers aged from under 6 to under 14. The under 6 and under 7's will compete in four events, while the older age groups will take on seven events. These include an ocean swim, board race, relay, flags, beach sprints and iron for the older age groups.
She said surf clubs were 100 per cent volunteer run and the event relied heavily on parents and members. “On the day we’ll have in excess of 100 volunteers to keep our kids safe on the beach and in the water. We have about 70 (volunteers) on a normal nippers day.”
Entrants will purchase a $10 armband which will provide them with food throughout the day including sausages, fruit, water, muffins, slushies, fairy floss and unlimited access to face painting, a jumping castle and chair ride. Siblings can also purchase an armband.
Dwyer said while there was a perception that Port Fairy’s 450 strong nipper member base comprised of lots of holiday makers, a recent post code survey revealed many were from the local area including Koroit, Hamilton, Warrnambool and small farming communities.
Registration is from 9am at the Port Fairy club with competition from 10am.