Narooma’s Huntfest will go ahead after the Eurobodalla council today voted to grant a five-year licence to the organisers of the NSW South Coast festival.
Dan Field, of the South Coast Hunters Club, says the event will go ahead as a photography and game-food event thanks to the council’s overwhelming support for his initiative.
“It was a vote for common sense,” he said.
Firearms will not be a feature of the event, he said, and other details are still to be confirmed.
Only one councillor, the Greens’ Gabby Harding, voted against the event. Council had stated that it would only be looking at the event on its merits according to the rules set down for the use of council facilities, not on the focus of the festival, though it appears Harding may have tried to stretch the council’s authority with her vote.
The Greens had tried to make Huntfest the main issue at the recent NSW local government elections, drumming up fears of lost tourism and even US gangland-style violence.
The tactic appeared to fall flat, although neither did it help drum up extra support for Mr Field’s election bid, and he did not garner the votes required to get onto the council.
Hunting is very popular in the region, which has a sizable deer population, and the festival is expected to be well received by most locals, as well as visiting hunters.
“HuntFest has a number of aims, the first being to educate the public on the role licensed hunters under Game Council NSW carry out in the conservation of our native animals and environment by the eradicating of feral pests,” Field said.
The DVD and photo competition would showcase hunting, he said, and another aim was to boost tourism in the region.
Huntfest will feature game-food stalls where the public can sample game meat such as venison, goat, rabbit, seafood and local wine, all supplied by local producers.
There will also be stalls run by the NSW Stock Squad, NSW Firearms Registry, Australian Customs, NSW Game Council, and exhibitors of camping and hunting equipment, four-wheel drives, hunting outfitters, taxidermists, butchering displays and local businesses.
“Tourism is down twenty-five to thirty percent in our Shire,” Field said. “HuntFest has the potential to give our Shire a much needed boost in a time of the year when tourism is slow.
“This, together with the ongoing benefits of firearm and hunting education, is not only good for our shire but the general public as well. HuntFest is eco-tourism practiced at its best.”