Plans to grow the Ballarat Beer Hop into something bigger are in motion, with organisers seeking a funding boost from the council.
The festival, which had its inaugural run in April this year, will receive a cash injection of $25,000 for the 2020 event if councillors approve a grant application on Wednesday.
Both event organisers and council officers say the Beer Hop is a great way to boost visitor numbers over the traditionally quiet Easter weekend.
The 2019 event, with people sampling regional craft beers and wines at six venues across the city, attracted around 650 people.
It bought a higher yield tourist. We had a lot of overnight stays which was fantasticJordan McPhan, organiser Ballarat Beer Hop
Next year's event is planned for Easter Saturday on April 11, and grant funding would be earmarked to market the event more widely. Organisers believe that once participation reaches 1,500 to 2,000 people, the event will become financially sustainable without council funding.
The reaction to this year's event was described as "overwhelming", with tickets close to selling out in advance.
There were six venues involved last year. One of the principal organisers Jordan McPhan said despite a short lead time a lot of people came to stay overnight from Melbourne and Geelong.
"It bought a higher yield tourist. We had a lot of overnight stays which was fantastic," she said.
She told The Courier that if the grant were approved it would provide seed funding for the event and could possibly lead to a longer festival in the future.
Venues listed for the 2020 event include Freight Bar, The Mallow, Campanas, Hop Temple, Housey Housey, and the PWTN.
For Irene Beghini, a co-owner of the PWTN, the funding would help get people into the pub at a time where it can be tricky for city venues.
It's something different and it activates the city on a historically quiet weekend during EasterIrene Beghini
"It gets more people through the door, more people getting to the pub and knowing who we are and what we do."
"It's something different and it activates the city on a historically quiet weekend during Easter," she said.
An assessment of the grant highlighted a "modest" projected attendance, but council officers are recommending the one-off application as it would help boost visitors - and encourage locals to stay in town - at a "low yield period".
A grant would also help other businesses at the same time, and strengthen the area's burgeoning craft beer industry, a report in the council's agenda suggests.
An investment of $100,000 would be needed to develop or initiate a similar event over the Easter period, agenda documents suggests.
"There is a very high risk of losing the event out of the Easter timeframe if funding cannot be secured to a minimum of $15,000," the report says.
Meanwhile, council officers have also recommended that a tourism grant worth $11,840 be approved for the Ballarat Beer Festival, which is scheduled for February 15 next year.
Funding for another summer staple of central Ballarat events is also on the agenda.
The organisers behind Rock Ballarat, the new incarnation of the old Ballarat Beat Rockabilly festival, are seeking a strategic partnership valued at $60,000 over three years.
They plan to use Civic Hall as part of an expanded festival, which would also spill over onto Armstrong Street north, which will be closed off for the occasion. There is also live music planned at the the Mining Exchange late into Sunday evening.
All of the grant applications will be heard by councillors on Wednesday night.
Tim Matthews, whose venue Housey Housey is listed for the Beer Hop, said he hoped the event organisers would get the full amount they were seeking. He also said it was good to see council listen to private enterprise to make the events happen.
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