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18 March 2020
By Dylan De Jong
Rock ’n’ roll lovers united in Ararat to support the 26th annual Jailhouse Rock Festival at the weekend.
Festival committee president Greg Dalmayer said it was ‘lucky’ the festival could still go ahead because the event started on Friday – the same day Prime Minister Scott Morrison advised against gatherings of more than 500 people in efforts to prevent spreading of COVID-19.
He said all scheduled events went ahead, lining Ararat streets with 1950s and ’60s rockabilly fashion, vintage cars and motorcycles.
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“It was interesting because the majority who attended weren’t too stressed,” he said.
“Everyone said it was a great weekend – the only thing that really went against us was the weather.
“We had people coming from all over the place. They came from New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia and all across the country.”
Mr Dalmayer said with the virus in mind the festival committee was confident numbers remained below the recommended amount of 500 people at individual events.
“We were unlikely to have had over 500 people every day across the whole event,” he said.
“The last thing we would want is to run the risk of spreading the disease.
“The maximum limit in Ararat Town Hall where the bands played is 250 people.”
He said the event was an important economic top-up for Ararat businesses.
“It’s probably the biggest event that Ararat runs in terms of bringing people into the town,” he said.
“There was no accommodation left in town, also because of weddings coinciding with the event.
“That’s good for the tourism industry, because they’re going to feel a bit of pain in the next few months.”
Bands Kid James Trio, Melbourne-based Honky Tonk Rockers and The Fender Benders rocked crowds with timeless hits in Ararat Town Hall.
Mr Dalmayer said the bands had also lost bookings due to the virus.
“The bands told us they had also lost a lot of bookings – that whole industry is about crowds, it’s just going to be hard for people for a long time, especially for tourism and events,” he said.
He thanked Ararat businesses for supporting the event.
“For the sponsors and local businesses – whether it’s decorating shop windows or dressing up in their rockabilly outfits, they’re the people who make it happen – they support us, whether it’s in the form of donations, sponsorship or just getting involved.
“They make it all worthwhile.”
The entire March 18, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!