Harbour Festival "brought the town together"
CLARE King remembers the first Gladstone Harbour Festival like it was yesterday.
She was nine-years-old and said the whole town had turned out for the one-day-event which in its infancy was more like a "street party".
But 54 years later the festival has taken a turn for the worse with interest from the community so low that two iconic events are close to being axed from the program.
"It brought the town together," Ms King said, who is now a volunteer helping organise the festival.
"We were classed as a small country town in those days and the festival was the highlight of the year.
"It makes me feel really sad to know people aren't interested because of all the volunteer hours and work that goes into organising it.
"People seem to still want the festival to happen; they just aren't prepared to get involved."
For a year volunteers have been tirelessly planning and promoting the festival which centres around the historic Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race.
But with only two rafts entered into the Great Regatta Raft Race and minimal interest in the street parade, the two events won't be part of the final schedule for 2016.
Event coordinator Abi Galbraith, who has been with the Harbour Festival Committee for three years, said the decline in community involvement has been "noticeable" particularly compared to 2014 when she managed to organise a street parade with a quick call around town, four weeks out from the day.
"People really rallied behind it that year," Ms Galbraith said.
"I know some people might be waiting until the last minute and have said they intend to enter. But from a planning perspective, we need to know they are actually doing it."
The Dressing and Blessing of the Fleet is also at risk of being ditched for the same reason.
For the Great Regatta Raft Race to go ahead there needs to be a minimum of 12 entries, and for the Street Parade, 25 floats. The committee will make a final decision on March 1.
Click here to register or call 4972 5111 for more information.