New Year's Eve event still planned in Murray Bridge

The Murray Bridge council hopes to give 2020 quite the farewell party, despite COVID-19 restrictions.

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New Year’s Eve, the Splash Festival, the Fringe – hopes are high that all of Murray Bridge’s biggest events may be able to return this summer.

With Christmas saved, council events manager Matt Miles has turned his attention to the other big items on his agenda for the next few months.

Among them are New Year’s Eve, which brought thousands of people to the riverfront for the first time last year; and the Murray River Splash Festival, which attracted tourists and locals alike throughout January.

COVID-19 restrictions will change the nature of both events – for example, the riverfront might have to be fenced off for the December 31 fireworks, and people might have to register their attendence ahead of time.

But Mr Miles said the council had been “over the moon” with last year, and hoped to do something similar again.

“The beauty of it (last year) was you could just come down, the kids could have a play,” he said.

“We’re working on how you can keep the positive vibe of the event while having it fenced and meeting the restrictions.

“With COVID you’re trying to keep people apart, so it creates a few challenges.

“(But) I’d be disappointed if it didn’t happen.”

By contrast, the Splash Festival at Sturt Reserve – with its inflatable river playground, kids’ activities and food trucks – looked like it would be “quite achievable”, he said.

Still, if the the past six months have taught us anything, it is that plans sometimes need to change.

Some events have gone on, including the River Murray Football League finals and a bike race at Mypolonga.

Among those to have been cancelled for 2020 are the Australian International Pedal Prix, Autofest and the Murray Bridge PGA Classic golf tournament.

Mr Miles, pictured, guessed it would be a few years before the events space returned to normal – “some of those mass-gathering-type events just won’t be able to happen until COVID is through”.

But he said Murray Bridge was positioned well to be a happening place in the meantime.

“We’ve got the space, we don’t have the large population risk, so I think we’re in a really good position to do things,” he said.

The next major event on Murray Bridge’s calendar will be the Gold Cup, to be staged at Gifford Hill next Friday, October 16.

Photos: Roven Images/Unsplash (top), Peri Strathearn.

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