Canowindra International Balloon Challenge brings big benefits to the Central West

'Making money for the town and region' - that's what Balloon Challenge is all about

For Adam Barrow, the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge is all about supporting his community of more than 2200 people as much as possible.

It's an event run by passionate community members wanting to generate tourist dollars for the town and the region.

It's estimated the iconic gathering generates $1.3 million dollars for the local economy - it's the biggest week on the Canowindra calendar.

And now that its organisers - Canowindra Challenge Incorporated (CCI) - have been able to secure much-needed funds to afford to put on this year's event, Mr Barrow of CCI is hoping to contribute more.

"We're hoping for half a million dollars to go back into the economy," he said.

"We want to make money for the town, that's what it's all about.

"People are struggling and we want to drive energy back into the town."

The event's future was looking very uncertain after a drop in numbers last year, until there was overwhelming community support and sponsorship at its annual general meeting on January 23.

Besides retaining Mr Barrow, there is an entirely new committee - featuring four women and two men.

"There was a lot of interest from the community [at the AGM] which is fantastic," Mr Barrow said.

"We have some new members too."

The countdown is on for the 2020 Challenge, with just 10 weeks to go until it lifts off on April 15 and tickets going on sale on Tuesday.

Mr Barrow said the committee is "pretty much ready to go", they just needed to finalise its events.

Everyone stands to benefit from the event - that's really what we're trying to achieve.

Adam Barrow of Canowindra Challenge Incorporated

They are looking at different approaches and a "whole range of ideas".

The Night Glow attraction, held on April 18, is being moved back to the Sportstrust Oval for event-goers to kick back on the irrigated grass area.

The Canowindra Showground will instead be used for camp sites which will be kindly managed by the Showground Trust.

Mr Barrow and the team want to bring the festivities back into the main street as well, and are working with all venues in town.

"We're trying to have something on every night," he said.

"The Canowindra Services Club for example have an ACDC tribute band playing which people can attend straight after the glow [on the Saturday night].

"We're trying to build that... We really want to bring that to the event.

"And we're working on a 150km radius for stallholders for the markets."

The committee is estimating between 4000 and 6000 people will attend this year's Challenge and ticket prices have been slashed by more than half compared to 2019. Some of it will be donated back to drought-affected families too.

"Everyone stands to benefit from the event - that's really what we're trying to achieve," he said.

"It's a big hit for the region and surrounding areas benefit, through accommodation for example, as we know Canowindra's accommodation is limited, and by people travelling through and stopping in their towns."

Unfortunately, however, Mr Barrow said they do not receive support from neighbouring Orange City and Cowra Shire councils despite these flow-on benefits.

"We always need sponsors and it doesn't need to be cash, it can be in-kind support, like through volunteers," he said.

"Community groups can help out in some way - we need people on the gate and cleaning crews, things like that."


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