Mingenew Shire is ready for town's big event

Mingenew Shire is ready for town's big event


Events
Mingenew Shire chief executive officer Nils Hay is looking forward to experiencing Expo for the second time.

Mingenew Shire chief executive officer Nils Hay is looking forward to experiencing Expo for the second time.

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Nils Hay, the Mingenew Shire's chief executive officer, said Expo was by far the biggest event on the local calendar.

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NILS Hay knows only too well the importance of the McIntosh & Son Mingenew Midwest Expo for the local community.

It provides a great shot in the arm for the local economy of a town that only has about 200 people living in it and 450 people living in the shire.

Mr Hay, the Mingenew Shire's chief executive officer, said Expo was by far the biggest event on the local calendar.

"It's our showpiece event," Mr Hay said.

"We have a few others throughout the year but none of them come close in terms of scale to Expo.

"The next biggest is probably the races which is in March, but the scale between the two events is vastly different.

"Expo is a really good opportunity for us to get a lot of people to come into Mingenew and see what our shire is all about.

"As well as a great family day out, it is also a really good networking opportunity for people who live on farms and don't always come into town for the same events to be able to come in and mix with each other and see what is happening in the town and the community.

Mr Hay said Expo was one of the only times almost everyone in the shire was in the one place at the same time.

As a small shire he said it was important to support events like Expo which foster economic growth and development.

The Shire's new Strategic Community Plan underscores the importance of Mingenew maintaining its population and, if possible increasing it, so supporting local attractions and events, like Expo, is a priority.

"Our big challenge, like a lot of towns in this part of the world, is that we have been shrinking," Mr Hay said.

"Expo's a good opportunity to spark some activity, and the feeling leading into this year's event is positive."

He said the Expo board had done a lot of work behind the scenes again and had tweaked the format to include the Night Markets this year.

"Expo is our opportunity to really showcase ourselves to thousands of visitors which is fantastic but also puts a lot of pressure on the Shire and the town to deliver," Mr Hay said.

He also acknowledged the work being done by the Tourist & Promotions volunteers and local businesses that were also becoming de facto tourist information sites for visitors.

Mr Hay said some of the local businesses were running with that concept this year, including the caravan park that is featuring local art and crafts, and events for their guests.

On the back of a concerted marketing campaign Mr Hay was also expecting people visiting Expo to explore local wildflower sites, predicting wildflower season would be as good as last year.

"Last year we were very busy with wildflower season," he said.

"We have got maybe a three-month period where we do get hammered but then the challenge is sustaining tourism throughout the year."

Mr Hay is also chairman of Wildflower Country which is a grouping of eight regional shires, and as much as it is called 'Wildflower Country', its focus is regional tourism as a whole.

They are looking at other local attractions, including trails and astro tourism, to extend the tourist season.

"WA is very big and sparsely populated and as a result there is very little light pollution," he said.

"If you want to get out and have a look at the night sky, it is one of the best places in the world to do it

"It doesn't take much, you can get out there with a pair of binoculars and see some amazing things."

Mr Hay said given the clear night skies, the area was also a drawcard for astro photographers - a group who aren't as reliant on a particular time of the year like the wildflower season.

He said farm tourism was also being trialled by the Mingenew Irwin Group to give visitors another experience when they were in the town.

In the meantime he is looking forward to Expo this year, having only moved to the town three weeks prior to last year's event.

"I went in fairly blind last year, but it was a great introduction to the area," Mr Hay said.

"A lot of people invest a lot of time and effort into making it a very positive event."

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