As the year winds into the mad Christmas rush of shopping and cooking and socialising with friends and family, we are conscious of a big clock on the wall, ticking away the weeks until this time next year, when we will be in the final stages of preparation for the 2019 Australian Wooden Boat Festival.
The festival plays a long game, of course, facing challenges to find enough sponsorship and support to cover our operating budget and dealing with changes to our waterfront infrastructure that influence how we do things and where. We have an international program to arrange, as well as planning berthing arrangements for 500+ boats and organising the equipment we’ll need to produce the event.
As we work through this checklist, it becomes obvious that the most important resource we have is our people: some of the most talented and committed and enthusiastic people in Tasmania. Our volunteer board of directors navigate the changing legal, financial and regulatory environment we work in. Our experienced project leaders are already lining up their own checklists and crew. Our ever-willing members and volunteers stay in touch all the time, ready to jump in to do whatever is needed to prepare for the event. Our professional event team is already on the ground, booking venues, checking dates and writing schedules.
We are one of a handful of great festivals in Tasmania, but for me the Australian Wooden Boat Festival stands out (I suppose it would, wouldn’t it?). It is almost entirely produced by volunteers – 345 of you in 2017. It is free to the public – there are no gates or ticketed ‘VIP’ areas. It embraces the local wooden boat community and yet has an international reach. It has grown organically from a modest social gathering of boat owners into one of the largest wooden boat festivals in the world.
Christmas is traditionally a time to say ‘thank you’ for all the good deeds and generous help we receive and to count our many blessings. So I will say it now. Thank you. For all your talent and support, all your goodwill and ‘can-do’ attitude. It’s a privilege to work with you.
Have a great Christmas.
General Manager, AWBF