The community of Walcha has once again proven its tenacious spirit - and the ability to turn a negative into a positive.
A new event has risen from the ashes of the voluntary financial collapse of the promoting company of the Freak Show Festival of Motorcycles last week.
A quick response by Walcha Council and community stakeholders is leveraging both the disappointment and anger of ticket holders toward the promoters; and the goodwill and empathy they are expressing towards the town on social media.
Walcha will now host its own event - simply called the 'Walcha Motorcycle Weekend' complete with a humorous logo of an adhesive bandage covering a motorbike.
we expect we could have up to one thousand visitors that weekendWalcha tourism manager Susie Crawford
Walcha tourism manager Susie Crawford said as of yesterday 773 ticket holders had confirmed they are still coming to Walcha. "We also have a number who have said they are unsure so we expect we could have up to one thousand visitors that weekend," she said.
The program is still being finalised but will include a rough ride rodeo on Saturday, live music, a show and shine, the farmers market and a billy cart derby. The outdoor cinema film, and wheelies and stoppies stunt rider, that were previously scheduled for the Freak Show have also been confirmed.
All accommodation in town is fully booked, but camping, rent-a-tent and glamping will be available at the showground - with prominent guidelines on what is allowed under the current water restrictions. Local not-for-profit groups will provide basic catering onsite and clean up services.
All branches of the motorbike community have rallied together to support Walcha, and Harley Davidson has confirmed that although the Harley Owners Group (HOG) Rally is not going ahead, the company will attend in some form and say the specific details are still being worked on.
One element will be a display truck showcasing the company's best bikes at the rodeo. The majority of ticket holders still coming are HOGs, and they will run shuttle buses between their accommodation in Armidale and Tamworth to the event.
Many Indian Motorcycle riders are expected - in fact they were some of the first to rally when the festival collapse was made public.- and the Oxley Riders will run a motorcycle gymkhana.
We are working hard with the community to salvage something from the situationWalcha Mayor Eric Noakes
Walcha Mayor Eric Noakes said Walcha Council was both dismayed and disappointed when it heard that the Freak Show had been cancelled.
"Council had no indication that this was happening and was taken by surprise with this information so close to the festival date," Mr Noaes said.
"While Council has no financial implications in this festival, and only served to fulfil the regulatory obligations, the impact on our businesses and community would have been profound.
"We are working hard with the community to salvage something from the situation."
To see the event program and book camping options go to https://walchansw.com.au/walcha-motorcycle-weekend/