Recovered from the Christmas holidays and ‘shack month’ in January? Back up to speed and conscious of the fact that there are only 10 whole months left in the year? A little overwhelmed by the volume of stuff you have to get through in that time? Us, too! February is all go here at the AWBF office as we lay the foundations for another great festival in 2017, one year from now. I’m delighted to say that almost all of our 2015 project leaders are back on the production crew for 2017. This is, without doubt, the strongest events crew in the state (our gold medal in the 2015 Tasmanian Tourism Awards is proof of that) and could give many a mainland operations a run for their money. In fact, we did just that recently, when the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival was voted one of the top three major festivals in Australia at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards in Melbourne. Our Bronze Medal placed us in a very narrow point spread behind Canberra’s Floriade (a month-long national horticultural festival) and the Melbourne Cup (which is, we understand, some kind of horse race). Not too bad for a nonprofit community event run almost entirely by volunteers, operating on the slimmest of budgets and supported by an audience of 220,000 visitors. We need to keep reminding ourselves that this happens because the people of Tasmania want it to happen – we’re proud of our maritime heritage, we’re crazy about wooden boats and we welcome the world to come and see them, and us.
So, the cycle has started once again. In April, we’ll be opening expressions of interest for boat owners seeking a berth for Boats Afloat and just a week later we’ll take your registrations for Boats Ashore. Commercial exhibitors are already lining up for the Maritime Marketplace (even before registrations open in July) and Sales Manager Tim Oxley has his hands full working out where we’re going to put them all. Food & Beverage Manager Kelvin Aldred has his eye on some of the best food producers in Tasmania and a reprise of the enormously successful Waterfront Tavern, showcasing the best of Tasmanian wines, beers and cider. Our technical crew are already drawing chalk lines on the tarmac and measuring up for site services, while Volunteers Manager Annette Ritchie dusts off the schedules and duty rosters for our army of 435 festival volunteers. Stay subscribed to the AWBF Newsletter for regular updates as the festival week draws nearer.