Buninyong and Ballarat were a hive of activity over the weekend with two of the city’s most popular Summer events drawing in record crowds.
More than 20,000 people made the most of the fine weather over the weekend and packed the streets of Buninyong and Ballarat’s beautiful Botanical Gardens for the Federation University Cycling Road Nationals and City of Ballarat’s first free Summer Sundays concert for 2019.
Ballarat Mayor Samantha McIntosh said growing crowds at both events goes to show the work the City of Ballarat was doing to position Ballarat as regional Victoria’s premier events city was working.
“We often say our region punches above its weight when it comes to events – and through our events strategy the City of Ballarat works hard to make Ballarat our state’s premier regional events city.
"Whether it’s a large scale offering like the Road Nationals, or a more laid-back fare like Summer Sundays, there’s something for everyone.
"Add these events to the city’s outstanding food and wine scene and it’s a combination hard to beat.
“That’s why thousands are attracted to Ballarat each Summer.”
More than 17,000 people have been estimated at the Federation University Cycling Road Nationals over Saturday and Sunday, that’s already significantly up on 2018 which saw 18,000 over the entire five days.
Of that, an impressive crowd of 500 packed De Soza Park on Saturday night for the first RoadNats community festival which featured an outdoor movie, art exhibitions and plenty of fun family activities.
Cr McIntosh said it’s for good reason Ballarat is cementing its reputation as a premier cycling and creative city.
“Our city is perfectly placed to host major events,” she said.
“The atmosphere as cyclists raced through our iconic streets in Ballarat and Buninyong was just electric, as indeed it is every year.
“Our undulating terrain, support from local cycling groups and the community make us suited to hosting professional and recreational cycling events.”
Cr McIntosh said coverage of both the men’s and women’s Road Race on national television significantly helped promote Ballarat to an entire nation.
“This is the economic impact you can’t put a figure on. The media impact is impressive and the envy of other Australian cities, it’s putting our city at the front of mind of viewers and encouraging these people to visit our region,” she said.
“A common comment around the circuit again this year was the growing reputation of Mount Buninyong internationally and this is something we need to acknowledge and capitalise on all-year round.”
“I might also make mention of a new feature of this year’s RoadNats, the quirky and impressive Ballarat Art Bikes project – it’s been the best looking RoadNats to date and more importantly it has been a whole-community effort.
“This project reflects the work the City of Ballarat is doing through our Creative City Strategy to leverage our dynamic arts and culture industry into new areas.
“You can expect to see more of this in the planning of all future events.”
Similarly, the City of Ballarat’s first Summer Sundays concert for 2019 is also off to a cracking start with its biggest crowd recorded for week one (3400 attendees, up on the 2500 recorded at week one in 2018).
Cr McIntosh said the growing popularity of this event shows how far the live music scene has grown in Ballarat.
“A city with a strong and supportive live music scene is a city that is culturally vibrant, bold and thriving. And that’s exactly where we want to be,” she said.
“We keep talking about establishing our city as a leading Creative City and it is supporting our arts and culture offering through events such as Summer Sundays that will help us get there.”
The 2019 Federation University Cycling Road Nationals continues today and tomorrow at Buninyong with the Time Trials, while the Summer Sundays series returns to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens this Sunday and again on 20 January.