Festival to bring community together

Mitchell Shire Summer Days organisers Jess Fandrich, centre, and Joshua Rask, right, with Kilmore Trackside venue manager Emily Milwain.

By Jackson Russell

TWO Mitchell Shire residents are taking it upon themselves to bring the community together through the Mitchell Shire Summer Days event in February.

Organisers Joshua Rask and Jessica Fandrich hope to unite people after months apart with live music, market stalls, kids’ entertainment and food vans from morning until night at Kilmore Trackside.

Their goal is not only to bring the community together for the event but to also help some of the shire’s community groups and small businesses that have struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing them to set up market stalls and fundraise.

While the idea was initially a small one stemming from watching Footloose one night, Mr Rask said it quickly blew up after he posted on a community Facebook page to gauge interest.

“I put the post up thinking I might get maybe 100 likes and a couple of comments, but I put up the post and it finished with about 600 likes and about 400 comments from people interested,” he said.

“Then we put up the event page, which has 1000 people interested already, and we haven’t even put up any acts or anything yet.

“It just showed that this is what people needed, they just need something to do, something to join back in with the community after COVID and whatnot because the response has been just huge and so quick.”

With Mr Rask’s idea rapidly growing, Ms Fandrich offered help after her own bushfire relief event was stopped in its tracks when the pandemic hit.

“I told Josh I’d seen his post and how I was planning an event pre-COVID for bushfire relief and I still had many contacts from this event and that if he needed any help or support to let me know, so we started working together straight away,” Ms Fandrich said.

Mr Rask said diversity was one of the big focuses of the event.

“We want everyone to get around it. We want everyone to come and have a boogie, a sing and a good time,” he said.

To help facilitate the event, Kilmore Trackside quickly came onboard to provide a venue and help organise some of the event’s more intricate details.

Kilmore Trackside venue manager Emily Milwain said she immediately wanted to be involved when she saw the interest in the initial post.

“My initial feedback was to provide a space for Josh to do this event and then from there, there was an awareness that there was probably a grand idea with maybe a little less experience so, for me, it was about being able to support them the best way we can as a club to help them facilitate and pull off an event of this size,” she said.

“We’ll obviously contribute at a financial level and in any way we can to help.”

Every cent of profit from the event will go straight back into the community with groups and businesses keeping all the profits from their market stalls with additional auctions throughout the day raising more money for the community.

To this point, Mr Rask and Ms Fandrich have been able to organise as much as they have without any financial support, with donations and volunteers providing for security and first aid, among other things.

Mr Rask said he hoped the event would unite a community that, at times, appeared to be divided.

“You go to the pub on a Friday night and you see the older people there until 10 o’clock then leaving in fear of the younger kids coming in a causing drama so I thought let’s get everyone together,” he said.

“It’s going to be just for everyone, we’re going to have different music styles, different dancers and stuff so everyone just gets involved.”

For more information or to enquire about market stalls or sponsorship packages, email mitchellshiresummerdays@outlook.com.