Lakes and Stratford festivals funded
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Lakes and Stratford festivals funded

Two important local festivals, the ‘Seafarers Multicultural Festival’ in Lakes Entrance and the 'Shakespeare on the River Festival' in Stratford, have each attracted $2,000 in State Government funds, Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, announced today.

“I raised the funding with the Minister for Tourism and Major Events in Parliament this week and was delighted to soon receive an affirmative response.

“Both are important events for the local communities of Stratford and Lakes Entrance and key drivers in their local economies,” Mr Bull said.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Bull said the Seafarers Multicultural Festival (December 2-4 this year), last year attracted 7,000 patrons, and organisers are anticipating up to 10,000 people will attend this year's event.

“There will be another exciting festival program this year, including a number of activities which promote the region's cultural diversity and showcase various tourist attractions.

“In 2008, a small steering committee presented the inaugural Feast of St Nicholas, and this most successful event was the launching pad for the now highly regarded and well-patronised Seafarer’s Festival.

“It will also highlight East Gippsland’s fantastic seafood industry, which is so important to the local economy with Lakes Entrance being home to a famous fishing fleet that produces some of the best seafood in the world to all states of Australia and internationally.

“This year the organising committee, led by Rosemary Kavadis and Bob Yeates, have secured as their Festival Ambassador, the acclaimed chef, Stefano de Pieri.

“Stefano will be both launching the festival in Melbourne and demonstrating some of his delightful dishes at the festival on the Saturday afternoon,” Mr Bull said.

“The other annual event which I sought the Minister's support in promoting is Stratford's 'Shakespeare on the River Festival'.

“Commencing in 1989, Neale Warrington from the Australian Shakespeare Company initiated discussions with the former Shire of Avon on how they could build on the village name of Stratford and its links to William Shakespeare. 

“From that initial foundation the first festival was held in 1991and since that auspicious occasion, the Festival has now been running continuously since 1996 and is a major fixture on the calendar being held on the first weekend in May each year.”

The Festival has grown to include over 20 different events being performed over a two and a half week period, attracting artists from around the region and from Melbourne and Sydney based professional companies.

“I am advised that last year Tourism Victoria said the festival had 3,500 patrons who attended and obviously the organisers are hoping to grow those numbers with an expectation of 4,000 people visiting the picturesque town of Stratford, which sits on the Avon River, this year.

“Stratford is one of the smaller rural towns in my community and activities like the ‘Shakespeare On The River Festival’ are crucial for local business and the town’s economy,” Mr Bull said.