Kyneton will no longer host the popular Lost Trades Fair as organisers sign up for the next three years in Bendigo.
City of Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rourke announced yesterday that Bendigo Racecourse would host the 2020 fair in March.
Organiser Lisa Rundell said it was no secret that the event was in need of a larger site with Kyneton Racecourse at capacity and many being turned away at entry.
“For at least two years we’ve been at capacity at Kyneton,” Ms Rundell said.
“People would attend and we would later get feedback from them saying they couldn’t see anything. We just needed a bigger site.”
Attendance was capped at 18,000 people for the 2019 fair after numbers reached 22,000 in 2018. Organisers were turning people away from the gates as early as 11.30am.
Ms Rundell said it was clear, after six years of growth, the event could not continue at the current site and that all opportunities to keep it within the area had been exhausted.
“It’s grown year on year beyond our expectation,” Ms Rundell said.
“We’ve considered every green and open space available in the Macedon Ranges and Hepburn shire. We’ve been in discussions with Ballarat all year. It all came down to a site that ticked all the boxes.
“We chose Bendigo not only because of its vibrant reputation for arts and culture and picturesque setting, but also for its strong historic connection with trades and skills that strategically fit the ethos of Lost Trades and what the fair celebrates.”
Ms Rundell said the new Bendigo Racecourse location offered three times the space and would open opportunities for more artisans to attend.
“We have artisans that want to come that we can’t fit in – they can come now,” she said.
The Kyneton fair has had huge economic benefit for the town and Ms Rundell said some of that is expected to continue as many Bendigo events attract stop-overs and visitors in the region.
Macedon Ranges chief executive Margot Stork said the council had been working to identify an alternate venue within the shire to accommodate a larger crowd but a venue to satisfy the needs of organisers could not be found.
Considerations included Hanging Rock’s East Paddock which has successfully hosted numerous concert events.
Ms Rundell said costs associated with using the East Paddock site, such as power and water, would add $95,000 to the bill and was not a viable option. Restrictions on event timing with no undercover areas was another major factor.
Kyneton Airfield suggestions also came with issues.
“There is a lot of conversation that we could have looked harder but we’ve been doing feasibility studies all year. We have exhausted all options,” Ms Rundell said.
Ms Stork held some hope for the event’s return stating the council “looked forward to continuing to work with the fair’s owner/operators to identify any future opportunities concerning lost trades in the shire”.
Next year’s fair at Bendigo Racecourse will feature more than 100 artisans with demonstrations by wheelwrights, chairmakers, bookbinders, tinsmiths, makers of penny farthings, rocking horses, leatherworkers, glassblowers, blacksmiths, silversmiths, spinners and coopers. Tickets will go on sale October 1.