Dirt n Dust cancelled for 2021 as coronavirus uncertainty continues to hurt outback events | Ralph-Lauren

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Julia Creek’s Dirt n Dust festival has been cancelled for the second straight year due to uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-day event, which usually includes a triathlon, bull riding and plenty of live music, has been running for 26 years and has a new venue that organisers have been unable to utilise so far.

Newly-elected president Nathan James-Laneyrie, who was born in Julia Creek, said the incoming committee included three members new to the town which made the decision to cancel the festival a little easier.

“It was quite a tricky decision to make but due to COVID being a lingering concern and the amount of work involved for five new committee members … that sort of helped us come to that conclusion,” he said.

“This will help give us a bit more time to think about everything and try to create a good community event.”

Mr James-Laneyrie said finding volunteers to help run the massive event was also proving difficult.

The horse racing component of the festival is still on the calendar.

“At this stage definitely the annual turf club race meeting, the Artesian Express that usually coincides with the Dirt n Dust, that will be going ahead at this time,” Mr James-Laneyrie said.

Queensland looks forward to events

Two men wearing high vis shirts and fly nets smile at a camera.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Dirt n Dust’s events.(ABC North West Queensland: Kelly Butterworth)

Tourism and Events Queensland chief executive Leanne Coddington said more than 200 events were cancelled or postponed last year due to the pandemic.

“Some events went virtual like the wonderful Mount Isa rodeo, it was the first virtual rodeo ever in the world,” Ms Coddington said.

She said it was disappointing to see events like Dirt n Dust cancelled for 2021 and she was hopeful later events could go ahead.

“We’re confident that by working closely with the event organisers we’ll be in this strong position for the future.

“People love going to events. They love travelling for events. It’s a great way to see the outback.”

Ms Coddington said she was confident the events calendar would be strong in the future.

“Stay optimistic. As we’ve seen recently, things can happen and change at a moment’s notice.”

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