Open letter to councillors, CEO and senior administrators of South Gippsland Shire Council, in reference to the matter of the double-booking of Memorial Hall. We are members of Leongatha Horticultural Society (LHS) who have worked – some of us for 20 years or more – on the Daffodil and Floral Show and Festival. We are concerned that the many supporters of our show and people in the broader community may have some misconceptions about this matter. We hope to clarify some of what occurred.
Firstly, though, we want to heartily thank the community groups who always take part – some with organising and setting up; some, like neighbouring garden clubs who exhibit and help with promotion; as many as 30 groups, including some of our schools, who participate in the festival, and our local newspapers and community newsletters. In all, probably more than 50 community groups take part in some way. Further, the 26 sponsors of the event are almost all local businesses, and others advertise in the Show Schedule – close to 30 businesses all told. This year some retailers, mostly cafes, stayed open on Saturday afternoon. Probably more than 100 different entities are involved with the show annually, on an ongoing basis.
This letter offers us the chance to publicly express our appreciation. Given all this wide community support for the Daffodil Show, and the fact that we had booked the hall for our usual full week by phone last year and confirmed by e/mail in January, the question needs to be asked; ‘Why did the shire not identify and resolve the double-booking problem in a positive and constructive way?’ Since our inception, LHS has had a positive relationship with the shire at the working level. Members now long gone helped start parks; we have been active in the hospital and cemetery gardens and many other useful projects. More recently, our members have been supportive of the shire’s sustainable living initiatives, where a lot of emphasis is on what we know well – conservation and cultivation.
For more than a year now, we have worked closely with the shire’s Community Strengthening people who, responding to our request, organised a Festival Working Committee, facilitated the things that needed to be done to enhance the activities around the town and even produced great art work! It is unfortunate that, somewhere in the system, it seemed like a good idea to manoeuvre us into changing our date, causing massive inconvenience and disruption to us, our exhibitors and our associates. This reflects a colossal lack of administrative judgment. One concert event, whose only material benefit to the town of Leongatha was maybe a few beers in the pubs, was deemed to outweigh a festival with close to 60 years of broad volunteer community history. Three days, supported by 100 local organisations and enterprises, attracting over 1000 visitors from far and wide, and resulting in increasing follow-on benefits to our businesses and community. The Daffodil Festival brings a valued and well-founded reputation to Leongatha. What were they thinking?
The Committee, Leongatha Horticultural Society.