The Kilkivan Great Horse Ride has been cancelled this year due to the drought and terrible fire conditions at present. This aerial shot was taken by Troy Jegers at last year’s event. Photo: Troy Jegers
The Kilkivan Great Horse Ride has been cancelled this year due to the drought and terrible fire conditions at present. This aerial shot was taken by Troy Jegers at last year’s event. Photo: Troy Jegers

Major Gympie region event drawcard cancelled

THE Kilkivan community have cast their vote to cancel Gympie region's iconic Kilkivan Great Horse Ride in a meeting at the showgrounds this morning as severe drought and fire conditions worsen in parched western districts.

The meeting between property owners, riders and the committee began just after 9am this morning and lasted for a couple of hours. Discussions ranged from postponing the event until a later date this year or cancelling it until next year as 2021 marks the 35th year of the event.

Established in 1986, the ride has become a classic on the equestrian calendar.

Each year participants commemorate Gympie region's pioneering days with a ride through country not normally accessible to the public, including old coach routes and tracks which are now on private property.

Kilkivan great Horse Ride president Hilary Smerdon said it was a disappointing decision but one which was unanimous among the group today.

"Property owners were concerned about the horse ride running through their property when owners are already struggling with the drought and fire conditions," he said.

"We came up with some ideas to celebrate the events 35th ride year to make it a memorable one next year.

"Personally I am disappointed that the event will not go ahead but it was a unanimous decision and we've decided to put the extra effort in to make next year's event a better one."

Ride secretary Belinda Smith said it was a difficult decision to come to but one that needed to be made.

"Due to the ride conditions and the lack of volunteers we came to the conclusion to cancel the Kilkivan Great Horse Ride," she said.

"Next year's event will be bigger and better and will hopefully have more volunteers which we are desperate for."

It is the second time in three years that weather has forced a postponement and the fourth year in a row that the event has been threatened with disaster.

The meeting on Saturday also spoke about the possibility of running the Kilkivan Great Horse Ride every two or five years.

"It was just a suggestion, but something that will need to be discussed in full later on," she said."

Ms Smith thanked the ride sponsors for helping out in 2019 and 2020.

"I want to thank our sponsors for the past few years and especially those sponsors who had already signed on for this year's ride. We had sponsors and infrastracture in place and we'll have to cancel the things that were booked," she said.

Mr Smerdon said only 12 people turned up to the meeting which was a bit of a let down.

"We were hoping for more people but it's hard running these events in a small town," he said.

"It would be great seeing more people interested in the event and volunteering as it takes a lot of work and preparation and hours to make it all happen."

The event is a massive drawcard for Kilkivan and could impact on tourism.

"Definitely. It brings in a lot of visitors and people but we have spoken of holding another event (not yet decided) that same weekend," he said.

The Kilkivan Great Horse Ride could also be held on a different date in 2021, but that wasn't delved into further.

Gympie Times

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