Room for Improvement at Festival

For approximately 25 years the Glenferrie Traders Association (GTA) has been hosting the annual Glenferrie Festival. The GTA is funded by a special rate and charge levied on commercial properties in the Glenferrie Hawthorn shopping precinct and is collected by City of Boroondara through the council rates and then passed onto the GTA. This special rate has been in place since around 1995, with the purpose of promoting traders in the area.

The GTA funds the Glenferrie Festival. The City of Boroondara also directly fund the festival through the Triennial Operational Grants which is part of Council's Community Strengthening Grants Program.

The festival has generally been growing each year, both in number of attendees and stalls. However, this year saw a decrease in attendees to a reported 70,000 from 110,000 last year, according to event organisers. The drop in numbers has been attributed to the extreme heat on the day. Although the reduced crowd is not likely what the organisers were after, some attendees enjoyed the festival more because of this. They found the event easier to get around, and a more comfortable and pleasurable experience. Best of all, not much of a line up at the amusement rides! Perhaps thronging crowds should not necessarily be an aim for the Glenferrie Festival.

Local traders that reported success on the day generally offered discounts, interactive activities or free giveaways. To name a few, Lido offered discounted $5 memberships, Yo-Chi had a range of activities including ping-pong, face painting and eating competitions and L'Burger offered free tastings. These were all great ways in which traders took the opportunity to engage and interact with the crowd and offered more than just an extension of the businesses regular day-to-day trade. The Glenferrie Festival is a day where traders can make an impression on locals and build on their relationship with the community. However, the traders and organisers need to work in partnership to make sure this happens.

On such a busy day with so many businesses, it seems a feat to ensure everything and everyone is where they need to be. Many traders commented on the ease they had with renting equipment and set-up of marquees through the festival organisers. Despite the ease of setup for most, location seemed to be an issue for some stall holders on the day, and was instrumental in determining their success.

Most stall holders near the middle of Glenferrie Road noted their good success and a high volume of visitors while others further along, such as traders at the Barkers Road end, noticed a lack of foot traffic as many attendees did not continue beyond the car show. The Hawthorn Makers Market were located at Burwood Road end, between the Immaculate Conception Church and the barricaded tram line. After appearing at the Glenferrie Festival for the past three years, they have indicated that it was hard going this year and next year they will be in their regular location in the Hawthorn Arts Centre on the day of the festival. In future, organisers should work closely with traders to determine best locations, taking into account other stalls and activities in the immediate area.

Last year’s festival saw the introduction of some non-local food trucks and stalls, this year that number spiked dramatically. Originally the festival was initiated by the local traders for the community to promote and benefit the local traders. The increase in competing non-local food vendors seems at odds with the focus of promoting local traders, and frustrated some traders as customers opted for non-local options over local. Other traders did not mind the direct competition, as this relieved some pressure from them to keep up with demand. Should meeting demand be at the expense of local business? Wouldn't it be great to boast that all food available at the festival is from our local businesses?

In future, an easily accessible map and clear schedule of events would undoubtedly encourage more participation and spectators to the cocktail demonstration, fashion show and other special events. At the festival, beautiful murals were being painted on the exterior wall of Coles, on Linda Crescent. However, this was not promoted anywhere obvious, so only some people managed to stumble upon the special event. Social media and signage is an important resource on the festival day. Oddly, there were no social media posts by the organiser on or after the festival.

Whether you see the festival as a way to promote your business and increase customer reach, fun day for the family, or just another day on the street, it’s safe to say the Glenferrie Festival is a positive experience for our community and one which we all learn from each year, constantly striving to improve.

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