Winter Magic to go ahead ... this year

The Duchess of Nostralia  part of the Mountains famous Ruby Bloomers Women's Circus, will collect funds for the festival's long-term future this Saturday before the parade. She is pictured outside Katoomba's iconic Carrington Hotel where fireworks will finish the day's celebrations.

The Duchess of Nostralia part of the Mountains famous Ruby Bloomers Women's Circus, will collect funds for the festival's long-term future this Saturday before the parade. She is pictured outside Katoomba's iconic Carrington Hotel where fireworks will finish the day's celebrations.

The show will go on. On Saturday the Winter Magic Festival in Katoomba will celebrate its 21st birthday, despite initial fears from the small committee it was financially unviable and might not go ahead.

Some 40,000 festival goers are expected to converge on Katoomba Street on Saturday to watch the colourful and kooky 500-strong member parade and enjoy the stands, entertainment, art and culture that marks the winter solstice in the Mountains.

As part of the new committee, president Sharon Peralta said she's heartened by members of the community who have said they would donate a dollar or more on the day to help Winter Magic's long-term future, in lieu of support from a large corporate sponsor.

"The response to our call outs for financial support means that this year's festival will go ahead with more confidence than we had a month ago," Mrs Peralta said.

"However the focus of the committee is very much on securing its future. We are asking everyone to dig deep. The committee has so many amazing ideas to help the Winter Magic stay relevant and true to its roots as a community arts festival. We just need to be in a position to make this happen in the years to come."

Someone hoping to make a big impression on the day is the Duchess of Nostralia - who during the rest of the year masquerades as Toni Clark, Winter Magic's committee secretary - and is part of the Ruby Bloomers Women's Circus, who will collect funds in a teapot for the festival's long-term future.

Those who make a "paper donation" would be rewarded with a Winter Magic badge saying "I made Magic Happen", she said.

"For us this is about celebrating winter," Ms Clark said.

"This is our town, our creative community and we're proud of it. I've been part of this festival with the local playgroup, the local preschool, the school and now the Ruby Bloomers."

"It's hard work and a really long day for locals, for volunteers and for businesses ... but then later on we can stand here on the Carrington lawn and watch the fireworks and celebrate our city."

Ms Clark said the committee always knew their revenue would be less this year - the festival costs $100,000 to run and they are currently about $7000 short - as they made a push for local and handmade stalls, offering those traders a half price discount.

"They did cash collections about 10 years ago. The cash drive might balance the books for this year or form the basis of our budget next year while we work to find a corporate sponsor," Ms Clark said.

Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon Tourism chairman Daniel Myles said their group was happy to offer support next year to the community-run festival group, to help them secure grants.

"We will work with the committee to look at ways to access future funding from state and federal governments," he said.

Ms Peralta said their group needed that kind of help and hoped someone with those specialist skills considered joining the committee for 2015.

Carrington Hotel co-owner Michael Brischetto, whose iconic hotel has had a long association with the event, said the committee was "doing a wonderful job at pulling together the largest community-run festival in Australia".

"One of the astonishing things about this festival is that it always manages to happen. With such a drive within the creative industries at the moment I am confident the community will get behind the organisers and the festival."

The 2014 theme of Winter Magic is Phoenix Dreaming and signifies the rebirth of the Mountains after fire and the close association to the original owners of the land.

"It is a fantastic event and we really need things like this as our economy recovers from the recent fires," said Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill. Clr Greenhill hopes a major corporate sponsor will rally to the committee's call.

Ms Peralta was "very grateful" for the support received to date "from the community, local business, our emergency services teams, BMLOT, council and all our supporters, thus far, with a mix of financial, in kind and moral support. It is wonderful to hear that people still love the festival and understand the importance it has economically for the Blue Mountains".

"It's our hope that all the visitors that come from all over Australia and the world will contribute a little to our wonderful Mountains festival," she said.

To sponsor the Blue Mountains Winter Magic Festival email sponsorship@wintermagic.com.au

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