Extra grants for anniversary

By Cobram Courier

The Strawberry Fields Festival’s annual community grants scheme has increased by $10000, up to $35000 this year.

The increase celebrates the festival’s 10th anniversary, with applications for grants open to Berrigan Shire-based organisations.

Strawberry Fields director Tara Benney said the fund was a way to give back to the community and the residents who had welcomed the festival and its attendees year after year.

The money is raised from a portion of every ticket sale and through fundraising activities on-site.

‘‘This year we are thrilled to be celebrating the festival’s 10-year anniversary,’’ Ms Benney said.

‘‘After the successes of past years, we want the event to continue to have a positive and lasting impact in the shire.

‘‘We’ve had great feedback from how the fund has benefited the community.’’

Held annually in Tocumwal since 2011, the Strawberry Fields Festival started its grants scheme in 2015.

It is designed to support local initiatives which enhance community economic development and improve the quality of everyday life in the southern Riverina.

Following last year’s festival, $25000 was shared between eight local beneficiaries, including Tocumwal Public School.

The school received $4000 for its Bluearth Foundation program, which aims to build wellbeing through physical activity.

‘‘We have seen a marked improvement in children’s ability to participate in games and physical activity with a more positive mindset, employing self-umpiring for fair play and co-operative behaviours,’’ principal Darren White said.

‘‘Our teachers have been impressed with the transference of these skills into the students’ classroom endeavours.’’

Other recipients were Finley’s Biralee Preschool, Tocumwal Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Finley’s Tocumwal Optimists, St Joseph’s Finley, Berrigan Country Women’s Association, Tocumwal Foreshore Committee and Tocumwal Pre-school.

Ms Benney said a $5000 donation to the Tocumwal Community Development Committee in 2016 was still paying dividends for the group.

The grant helped the committee to have plans and a cost estimate on Tocumwal Foreshore redevelopment proposals completed, which was a vital step in a larger grant application process.

There is now $2.1million in NSW Government funding secured for the project.

Valued at $3.2million, it will see a second storey added to the Tocumwal Visitor Information Centre for a cafe, streetscape works near the Deniliquin St roundabout and a splash park built on the foreshore.

Committee president Ross Bodey said it would be the greatest development for Tocumwal since the building of the new bridge in 1987.

‘‘With help from council and the community, we’ve secured another $1.1million for the project and we are just so grateful for everything, including that initial donation from Tara and the Strawberry Fields group two years ago,’’ Mr Bodey said.

‘‘Without that money, we wouldn’t have been able to do that.’’

Mr Bodey encouraged groups to apply for this year’s grant scheme, which he said was a ‘‘win win’’ for the festival and for locals.

●Eligible Berrigan Shire groups have until June 30 to submit an application, at Grants will be distributed following this year’s event, to be held in Tocumwal from November 16 to 18.