When members of the Rotary Club of Bundaberg Sunrise decided to reinvent their signature, annual community event, they wanted to focus on a theme of great seafood, local marine industry and the region's amazing environment – thus Oceanfest was born.
The seaside festival, based at Bundaberg Port Marina, has been recognised in Bundaberg Regional Council's Australia Day Awards as the 2022 Community Event of the Year for celebrating the region and fundraising almost $140,000 for local charities and organisations.
Rotary Club of Bundaberg Sunrise president Blair Felsch said Oceanfest was created in 2017 as a new, signature event to replace the hugely successful Bundaberg Multicultural Festival that was hosted for more than two decades.
“At the time we felt the multicultural festival had really run its course,” he said.
“But the club's priority has always been to provide a major annual event for the community which also helps us to raise much needed funds for worthwhile charities and local community groups.”
Blair said establishing Oceanfest highlighted the importance and connectedness of marine industries and organisations to the Bundaberg and North Burnett Region while fostering strong, community engagement and collaboration with more than 100 local organisations involved in the event.
“I think the big thing is we wanted to really focus on the ocean and the marine theme and we didn't feel that there was anything else similar to that in the Bundaberg Region,” he said.
“We wanted to keep it local as much as possible, focus on the industries and our amazing environment that we live in."
“As a local club we are supported by family and a lot of other organisations, and we try to keep the event free for the community which we are really proud of.”
Five years on and Oceanfest has seen plenty of success, garnering support from more than 10,000 attendees enjoying the festivities year after year.
Photos: ICONO IMAGES
Blair said he thought the food, great entertainment, wonderful atmosphere and picture-perfect location were all aspects of the event that made it so well-loved.
“For all of those that have been there, they know that it's hosted at the beautiful Bundaberg Port Marina, which is perfectly fitting with our ocean and marine things,” he said
“We certainly emphasise seafood with our theme, but there's always something to tempt the tastebuds of everyone that comes.
“We also include educational and fun things for the kids to do and certainly have a focus on the environment, and that's become a major area of focus for Rotary International across the globe.”
Blair said Rotary members were honoured to receive the 2022 Australia Day Award but stated it wouldn't have been possible without the support and effort of many others that helped to grow the event's success year on year.
“Everyone in our club, their family members, the other community groups and businesses that help us, they all put in so much effort," he said.
"I think seeing everyone come to the event enjoy themselves, then being able to give money as a result of the event to those charities and local organisations really is reward itself."
Photos: ICONO IMAGES