MOST people in Ballarat would remember the heated debate a few years ago over which November public holiday would be adopted by the City of Ballarat.
For weeks, arguments were tossed to and fro over whether Ballarat should recognise Show Day, Ballarat Cup or Melbourne Cup days.
When the Ballarat Cup Day was moved to a Sunday, that left only two contenders in the public holiday race, which was eventually won by the Friday Ballarat Show.
A 2010 survey found Show Day was the preferred choice among Ballarat residents. Show Day has been Ballarat’s November holiday for the past two years.
But now this public holiday debate is expected to be reignited tonight at the Ballarat City Council meeting.
While the November 9 Ballarat Show Day is the preferred option, Commerce Ballarat has thrown a spanner in the works by pushing for the Melbourne Cup Day on November 6.
Ballarat Cup Day is out of the mix, as it falls on a Sunday.
In a report expected to be tabled at tonight’s council meeting, governance and information services executive manager Annie de Jong stressed the availability of alcohol and gambling services was a major theme of the 2010 public submissions against declaring Ballarat Cup Day as a holiday.
“As a means of promoting a more family-friendly lifestyle the argument for the Ballarat Show Day cannot be ignored,” she said.
But Commerce Ballarat said people used the three-day break to take their pre-Christmas dollars to Melbourne while Ballarat businesses lost trade and faced increased expenses.
Commerce Ballarat chief executive Jodie Gillett said having Show Day often took money out of Ballarat as people headed to Melbourne for a Christmas shopping long weekend while local businesses that did open incurred extra penalty rates.
It is disappointing there are some people who feel they need to travel to Melbourne to complete their Christmas shopping rather than spending their hard-earned pay packets in Ballarat.
However, adopting Melbourne Cup as the preferred public holiday could essentially mean the death-knell for a three-day Ballarat Show, which enjoys bumper crowds on the Friday.
Moving the public holiday to Melbourne Cup Day could mean the show may have to scale back to a two-day event, which would be sad for both the organisers and the community.