Chloe, Lisa and Hannah Clarke from Crow's Nest at CMC Rocks in 2019.
Chloe, Lisa and Hannah Clarke from Crow's Nest at CMC Rocks in 2019.

CMC Rocks 2021 cancellation will leave $12 million hole

THE cancellation of the largest country music festival in the southern hemisphere for the second year in a row will leave another $12 million hole in the Ipswich economy.

CMC Rocks was called off for 2020 earlier in the year and organisers announced on Monday that it won't go ahead in 2021.

It is set to return in 2022.

Daniella Coric and Chelsea Nicholson from Melbourne at CMC Rocks on Sunday. The hugely popular event brings in millions of dollars to the local economy.
Daniella Coric and Chelsea Nicholson from Melbourne at CMC Rocks on Sunday. The hugely popular event brings in millions of dollars to the local economy.

The festival moved to Ipswich in 2015 and is locked in until at least 2022.

It is understood negotiations are continuing between organisers and Ipswich City Council to extend that contract to account for two lost years.

Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Phil Bell said he understood why the decision was made but it would be a big blow to local hospitality businesses.

"We were devastated when CMC couldn't proceed under COVID-19 restrictions (this year)," he said.

"I think everyone was optimistic until recently that 2021 would be a better year.

"In 2019 it was over 20,000 tickets sold across the three days which represents a fantastic boost for the local economy.

"Almost $12 million worth of visitor expenditure is injected into the local economy as a consequence of the three day event.

"CMC Rocks requires just shy of 53,000 visitor nights to the local region, which extends beyond Ipswich.

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"It's a huge event. We don't have capacity for all of those visitor nights. It's certainly a nice problem to have when the demand exceeds supply."

Mr Bell said there was a "growing sense of concern and uncertainty" around the event and it did not come as a big shock to the business community that it had been canned this week.

He said planning such a big event was incredibly challenging, even with community transmission of COVID-19 in Queensland non-existent.

Putting together the City of Ipswich 2020 Business Excellence Awards, held over two venues earlier this month, for more than 300 people was difficult enough.

"With some incongruent policies and restrictions between states and around borders, it's really difficult for businesses to plan," he said.

Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Phil Bell.
Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Phil Bell.

"What business requires to be successful is simply some support and some certainty.

"It's really challenging to plan an event so far out and to understand what restrictions might ease and what things might look like in the future.

"Certainly I have sympathy for CMC Rocks but equally, if not more so, I have significant sympathy for local businesses who are going to be adversely affected."

Ipswich mayor Teresa Harding said she was hopeful of CMC Rocks returning to Ipswich in 2022.

"This is a world-class event held in our region and we understand everyone's frustration and disappointment," she said.

"Council's events team have been liaising with event promoters for several weeks and examined many options for it to proceed, including changing the date and a hybrid event however the event promoters have made the difficult decision not to proceed."

Festival director Michael Chugg said they did not want to put on a "second-rate" event next year, with the pandemic making it difficult for international acts to attend.

Cr Harding said while this decision was a difficult one for the city, Ipswich had more than 220 events annually to pull visitors in.

REA D MORE: No 'second-rate event': CMC Rocks 2021 festival called off

"One of the beauties of coming to Ipswich is that we have so much to offer, a varied line-up of events that will interest a wide audience," she said.

"We have music, sport, food and entertainment on the list and there will definitely be something there to please people.

"Ipswich attracts more than two million visitors a year so we are keen to host events that will encourage and excite everyone."

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.


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