GOPIO Queensland Hosts 11th India Day Fair at Southbank

BRISBANE, GOPIO Queensland hosted their eleventh India Day Fair on 23rd October at Southbank Piazza. The iconic event celebrates India’s Independence Day and is normally held at the amphitheatre of Roma Street Parkland. Since last year there have been uncertainties about the restrictions. The restrictions imposed at Roma street was unmanageable in 2020 so the committee decided to hold a virtual event which went very well but it is never the same as the real event.

Fast forward to 2021, the restriction was still in place so the committee decided to shift the event to Southbank Piazza which would be more manageable in terms of crowd control with dedicated entry and exit points. Being a under cover venue was another plus point, the shifting of venue wasn’t taken lightly, risks were weighed against the opportunities and threats. As all previous India Day Fair were held at the Amphitheatre in Roma Street Parkland, it had become the default location, and people did not event think of going to another location, if fact few people went to the amphitheatre this year thinking that the event was being held there.

The idea of shifting the venue was nothing new, it had previously been mooted and a lot of time and effort had gone into seeking alternative venues but in vain. The amphitheatre comes with its own unique challenges, challenges that that GOPIO Qld had learnt to manage, unlike other organisers who overlooked the strict requirements and went ahead regardless. One of the biggest challenges was the uneven terrain where the stalls are set up, and the strict bump in and bump out procedures.

After the hard decision of shifting the venue, the committee got the wheels in motion of organising the event, the date was set 15th of August and all seemed to be progressing well , the committee had secured the services of a professional event management company to help facilitate the event. This was uncharted waters for the committee who had previously run the whole event successfully themselves. A highly successful launch and poster release of India Day Fair 2021 was held at Emporium Hotel in Southbank. At the poster release the new venue and the event partners were announced and introduced.

The event was advertised, invites were sent, and good response was received, then the unthinkable happened as new COVID 19 restrictions came into force in Queensland, the committee had no choice but to shift the date. This proved to be a logistical nightmare , as Brisbane festival had just began and the venue was not available, and there were other competing events happening, in some of which our event mangers were directly involved, all of this pushed the date to 23rd October – a far-fetched date from 15th of August.

With the change of date GOPIO Queensland decided to go ahead with a dinner function at Queensland Parliament house on 15th August, as the day had to be celebrated. This event was organised and completely sold out within thirty hours. Another highly successful event in GOPIO Queensland Tradition. Many politicians and community leaders missed out on the event as the speaker’s hall was still only accommodating limited numbers as per the COVID 19 restrictions.

India Day Fair 2021 was delivered to a reasonable standard, but it did not have the same charm as it would have if it had taken place on the 15th of August. The line of dignitaries was impressive and demonstrated the value placed they placed on the event, the official party included   Steve C Coghill – Indigenous Elder, Minister Leanne Linard – representing Queensland Premier, Umesh Chandra OAM, Katarina Carroll – Queensland Police Commissioner, Lord Mayor Adrian Schriner , Mrs Archana Singh Ji- Honorary Counsel for India in Queensland, Rakesh Sharma- GOPIO Queensland President, Lady Mayoress- Nina Schriner, Dr Maha Sinnathamby AM – Patron GOPIO Qld, Christine Castley – Multicultural Australia, – Jim Chalmers MP – Federal shadow treasurer, David Crisafulli MP – State leader of opposition and Swami Atmeshananda.

Being a new venue, there were new challenges such as the VIP reception area, and the traditional India Day Parade. The programming as usual began with devotional songs, lifetime achievement award, VIP reception, India Day Parade, Official ceremony, sponsors presentation, afternoon acts and performances. The stalls were on the outer ring of the Piazza, the good part was that it caused little disruption; downside was that it was a bit disengaged from the program itself.

There were more people in the later part of the day, this is quite normal practice as traditionally people expect senior groups to be performing in this segment. Not All VIPS are interested in the cultural items and they usually leave after their speeches or the VIP reception. The feed back from the VIPs was that being under cover was a relief.

As organisers the dilemma that we are faced with is balancing the entertainment with the formalities, it is not easy, and we must find the happy medium. Without sponsors an event of this magnitude is just not possible, we realise that sponsors certificate presentation has low entertainment value, but the fact is that without the sponsors we would not have the event. The seating capacity of Southbank Piazza is more than double that of the amphitheatre at Roma Street Parkland and so patrons were spread out in line with the Covid restrictions. The class of performances were high, and it is good to see that groups have come a long way and have put in a lot of effort and energy into staging their acts.

GOPIO Queensland committee worked hard to present India Day Fair 2021, and would like to thank everyone for attending and would like to place on record special thanks to the performers who put in a lot of effort in staging their acts and a very special mention to our sponsors. Hopefully 2022 will be a stable year enabling everyone to plan effectively .

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