Knot so good for Knitfest

By Kirra Livingstone

THE 2023 Maleny Knitfest could be the last of the much-loved festival following a significant decrease in funding and increases in public liability costs.

The popular festival that attracts thousands of people to the hinterland each year could only secure a fraction of the grant funding it had received from the Sunshine Coast Council. Combined with changes to public liability insurance demands – requiring individual stallholders to pay $165 to insure themselves – placed into question the festival’s future. Festival director, Debs Swain, said continuing the event was preferable but increasingly difficult.

“Stall holders now need to pay $165 for their own public liability insurance, we pay the venue, we pay our public liability and the fact we all have to pay insurance for the same event drives me crazy,” she said.

“Our public liability insurance used to cover everybody, but now with a change from the government, the council and the venue need to know that we and the stall holders all have this insurance.

“All our fees went up by a third this year, including the venue, signage, even printing went up 30 per cent from last year however our program guide is sponsored by local businesses.”

Last year’s Knitfest received $7000 in funding from council, compared to this year only receiving $2000, causing other events associated with Knitfest to be cancelled this year. “We are the largest event in Maleny and bring in 10,000 people, and we can’t even get funding, we got $2000 from the council for the event last year, and the event costs about $70,000 to put on,” she said.

“I have to find money and it’s really sad because we’ve had to cut out a lot this year just to be able to run the event, including our children’s event, entertainment and a bus service we run.”

Debs said Knitfest 2023 was still going to be packed with amazing events and extended to three days including a Masterclass Monday with a day-long knitting extravaganza, and will have 20 stalls of workshops, boutique craft stores and fibre art designers.

“Our theme this year is Wild Women, and people have so many different ideas on what a wild woman is, so people will knit a doll with this theme and will be judged by the public this year. “People can also register on our website for free to yarn bomb a tree in Maleny, get in early because I’ll need permits for all the trees that are yarn bombed.”

Knitfest is a free event from July 1-3 in conjunction with the Maleny RSL, Flexi School, Maleny State School, Conondale SS and the River School.

Main image: Lindel Kielly, June Doyle and Debs Swain one of the lanterns in 2021.