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Flood risk forces cancellation of Riverlights Multicultural Festival

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Within the space of 24 hours, Mother Nature has claimed another scalp in the Maitland LGA, this time the Riverlights Multicultural Festival.

It follows the postponed of the annual Maitland Triathlon at Morpeth, which was due to take place on 9 October.

Maitland City Council confirmed Saturday’s main attraction Riverlights, scheduled for The Levee precinct, had been cancelled as a result of forecasted rain and potential flooding this weekend.

“After extensive consultation with the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) and Bureau of Meteorology

(BoM) throughout the week, we’ve called the event off,” coordinator city events and activation Portia Wendt said.

“There’s a 100% chance of heavy rainfall as well as minor-to-moderate flooding expected.

“We’re disappointed to come to this decision, but the safety of our patrons, our staff and everyone who was slated to participate in the 8 October celebrations comes first.

“We love working with our local multicultural community groups each year, so much effort goes into the planning and the performances – it’s the heart and soul of Riverlights.

“It’s a shame that we won’t get to see their hard work come to life in 2022.”

After liaising with emergency services, such as the SES, Ms Wendt admitted “it was clear this year’s event could only proceed after extensive modification to the format and footprint”.

“The river and the riverbank are a big part of Riverlights,” she said.

“The risk posed by potential flooding, as well as the volume of rain forecasted, ultimately left us with little option but to cancel it.”

Previous Riverlights in 2020 and 2021 were impacted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The popular event remains a fixture of council’s annual calendar and will in 2023,” Ms Wendt said.

“We’re looking on the bright side and focusing our energy on making Riverlights 2023 a great success.”

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