Heat goes out of Chilli festival

SAWTELL'S famous Chilli Festival has been cancelled after organisers were unable to obtain sponsorship for the event.

A highlight of the winter calendar for the last eight years, the Chilli Festival was to have been held on July 7 but the Sawtell Chamber of Commerce pulled the plug this week.

Chamber President Brian Knight said it was a hard call to make on the $20,000 festival and they were extremely disappointed, but they had wanted to provide good quality entertainment and had made the choice to cancel rather than downgrade.

Although the chamber was prepared to underwrite some of the festival, running it without other sponsors would leave the chamber with very few funds.

He said they had approached national and local firms, including last year's major sponsor, National Australia Bank.

Although the closure of the Middle Creek Bridge was not helping retailers, it had nothing to do with the cancellation.

While the number of empty shops and boarded-up buildings in Sawtell has been fingered as a contributing factor in the cancellation, Mr Knight said it was unfortunate that Sawtell was going through 'growing pains'.

First Avenue has five buildings awaiting demolition or redevelopment.

Coffs Harbour-based firm LKM Capital plans to demolish several old buildings and replace them with two commercial buildings, and the empty Hamey building and old Post Office building are both reportedly back on the market in spite of earlier plans for redevelopment.

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