The Mackay Airport Beach Horse Racing Festival will go on.
THE Mackay Airport Beach Horse Racing Festival will go on.
That’s the unanimous decision made by family, event sponsors and supporters yesterday.
Festival organiser Mick Pope, 54, died suddenly on January 11 after a heart attack, leaving supporters fearful of the future of this unique and well-patronised event.
However, in a working group meeting held at council yesterday, Mayor Deirdre Comerford announced: “There was nothing Mick wouldn’t do to promote Mackay and – to honour this incredible man – I vow there is nothing we won’t do to help deliver his event.”
Mr Pope’s partner Chrissy Evangelou was “honoured and humbled” by the support.
“I’m so very grateful and relieved to receive such positive support from the community and our event supporters – Mick Pope would be proud to see his key partners coming together to ensure the event is a huge success for Mackay,” she said.
“We have a great team of passionate locals who were already working with Mick and I on various aspects of the festival – everyone is on board and ready to follow through on the great work Mick had started.”
In December, council approved support for the festival through its Invest Mackay Events Attraction Program, recognising the importance of this iconic event.
Mackay Airport general manager Rob Porter described it as “a landmark event for our region”.
“We are so very proud to have supported this festival over the years,” he said.
“It was Mick’s dream that one day the beach horse races would put Mackay on the map and we are committed to helping to achieve that in his memory.”
“This is one show that definitely must go on,” he said.
Ms Evangelou said more than 7000 people attended the festival last year.
She said Mick had invested so much effort into garnering even greater support for this year’s Beach Races there was no way such a potential hallmark event for our region could be allowed to fold.
“Mick had already locked in large groups from southern Queensland, northern New South Wales and regional Victoria, which has set the stage for the festival to go to another level and have an even greater national profile,” Ms Evangelou said.
“I encourage our community to show some #Mikeypride (#MackayPride) and throw their support behind this event with the same passion and vigour that Mick displayed for the Mackay region,” she said.
“I am delighted to confirm that the Mackay Airport Beach Horse Racing Festival will definitely go ahead in August this year.”
For more details visit mackaybeachhorseracing.com.au.