One of Australia’s biggest regional events is in jeopardy with the eleventh-hour departure of its event manager.
The Argyle Diamonds Ord Valley Muster in the Kimberley is due to celebrate its 19th year in May but will do so without long-time organiser Mellen Events.
Mellen Events, which has produced the festival for the past nine years, has failed to negotiate a deal for 2019 with the festival’s board.
The event, which attracts tourists nationally and internationally, first began with the Kimberley Moon Experience, last year expanding to 30 events over 10 days and attracting 15,000 attendees.
Festival board chairwoman Narelle Brook said the two parties ran out of time after a disagreement on how to run the event.
“We just couldn’t come to a final decision on a commercial arrangement that was going to be beneficial to both,” she said. “Mellen, with a very heavy heart, came back to us given that the time frame was looming for next year’s event — they came back and said they would not be able to go ahead.”
The Weekend West understands the event did not stack up commercially for Mellen, which is assisting with the transition to the new event managers. “It’s all very amicable,” Ms Brook said.
With dates already announced for May 17 to May 26 and headline acts not yet locked in for the festival’s main concert, it casts doubt on whether the board can appoint event organisers able to mobilise the infrastructure, travel and staff in less than five months.
Ms Brook hopes the board will sign a new event partner in a “week or two”.
“We’ve got the expression of interest out there to a few people but we’ve got to get that out to others as well,” she said. “It is a tight time frame, but it can be done.
“We just have to hope we can get someone on board to help give us that technological hand to help us pull off the Ord Valley Muster and the Kimberley Moon Experience.”