Organisers of Warrnambool's summer carnival are stuck in limbo waiting to hear if they will get the all-clear to set up on the city's foreshore this year.
The impact of COVID-19 restrictions have hit the industry hard and Trent Woodall, who has been coming to Warrnambool for 37 years, said his business was now surviving on fumes.
"My entire life savings is gone and the business' savings is gone. We're running on the fumes now and we're hoping that Warrnambool could be the start of slowly opening back up again," he said.
Mr Woodall will meet with the city council on Thursday about the possibility of operating this summer. It follows weeks of industry lobbying the state government about whether it was allowed to operate.
He said he hadn't been allowed to work in Victoria since March but was able to do five shows catering for 3000 people in north Queensland - something Mr Woodall said he was able to do in a COVID-safe way.
"If we can handle 3000 without one incident, we're 100 per cent confident we can handle what we do down there," Mr Woodall said.
The impact of the coronavirus has seen the projected income for his business drop 90 per cent.
"Me as a business, we were growing quite fast. We were the fourth-biggest travelling show business in Australia and this was going to be a big year," he said.
He said for the first few months they paid staff out of their own pocket. "Then Jobkeeper came in but it doesn't cover their whole wage. No one is on $700 a week - it's Australia," he said.
Mr Woodall was also forced to put some payments on hold. "Three months turned into six months turned into nine months ... so you're still making payments on equipment and big trucks and rides and things," he said.
"We sort of slip through the gaps a bit. We haven't been allowed to work. We've had to push. We've had to spend two weeks lobbying the state government asking what are we allowed to do as an industry. They don't know."
He said while he operated as a separate entity, he and his parents came together to operate the Warrnambool Family Carnival which they have been doing since he was two. "We're from Geelong but Warrnambool is a bit like a second home," Mr Woodall said.
He said it had been a "horrible year" for the industry. "As an industry, we've been forgotten completely," he said.
"We're small but we're important. As an industry in Australia we turn over a few billion dollars."
He said an economic impact statement done a few years ago showed that the carnival brought hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Warrnambool economy.
"We do all our annual maintenance while we are there, for example, so all the steel guys and we'd easily drop $20,000 at Bunnings every year," he said.
"We're important to a community, and we're important because fun is important.
"We want to bring some entertainment and some happiness and a bit of celebratory feel to summer."
Mr Woodall said their experience in Queensland taught them they were able to enact their COVID-safe plans relatively easily.
"We're outdoors. We don't have many touch surfaces," he said. He said there would be one entry and one exit point to limit numbers, QR codes would be scanned, markers on the ground would guide people to stay 1.5 metres apart while sanitiser stations would be erected and each seat and surface would be wiped down between rides.
If given the OK, they plan to bring a piano bar crew to town with live music - something that had proved popular in Geelong.
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