Pitch Festival Continues Amid Extreme Bushfire Danger Despite CFA Warnings

Published March 9, 2024

The Pitch Music and Arts festival in western Victoria is proceeding this weekend, despite being threatened by high bushfire risk and receiving confusing communication from its organizers. The Country Fire Authority (CFA) has advised those not yet at the event to avoid attending due to extreme fire danger ratings in the area.

High Bushfire Threat at Pitch Fest

The festival, which started Friday, is attracting approximately 18,000 people over five days at a location near Ararat, approximately 125 kilometres from Melbourne. Given the extreme bushfire danger level, rated second-highest in severity, the CFA has instructed festivalgoers to stay away or to leave promptly if already on site, especially since mobile phone reception is scarce.

Mixed Messages Stir Confusion

Social media posts from concerned family members and dissatisfied ticket holders highlight the confusion caused by mixed messages from the event organizers. On one hand, they have told attendees to heed CFA's advice and avoid the festival area, but on the other, they haven't officially canceled the event. This has led to frustration and demands for clarity.

Organizers Respond to Safety Concerns

Organizers suggested that the safest move for those already on the festival grounds would be to leave. They arranged free shuttle services to Ararat station and encouraged future arrivals to delay their trip. Despite these precautions, the festival intends to continue its programming. They assured that the site is well-equipped with amenities to deal with the heat and that there are no active fires currently in the region.

Parents and Attendees Express Worry and Frustration

Many parents are worried about their children's safety due to the lack of communication and are echoing these concerns online. Similarly, attendees following the CFA's warnings are asking for refunds, calling the decision not to cancel the event negligent.

Local Authority's and CFA's Roles

The CFA clarified their position, stating they recommended the festival's emergency plan be activated. They continued to stress that early departure is the safest option. Meanwhile, local authorities indicated that the issuance of event permits does not fall under emergency services, hinting at a possible in-depth review post-festival.

festival, safety, fire