Efforts to celebrate links between Sunbury’s biggest community festival and the famous rock concerts of the 1970s have paid off, with SunFest sharing Hume’s ‘event of the year’ Australia Day award.
The 39th annual festival, held on March 14-15 last year, was named joint winner of the title with the Iraq Unity Cup soccer tournament played in Dallas on March 7, 2015.
SunFest stage entertainment co-ordinator Graham Hanley-Smith said there had been a real effort to reconnect with the history of the event, which grew out of the rock festivals that featured the likes of Billy Thorpe.
‘‘We’ve always said that that’s where we started from, but until recently there haven’t been real links drawn,’’ he said.
A popular feature of last year’s SunFest was the display of rare memorabilia from the original concerts.
Other highlights were a traditional street parade with floats celebrating local emergency services, schools, community groups and businesses, a talent show, fun run and live music on the Village Green.
Mr Hanley-Smith said organisers still wanted a permanent space developed for exhibits relating to the rock festivals and Sunbury’s role as the birthplace of cricket’s Ashes.
‘‘For us, it’s a no brainer,” he said. “Any other town would do it because it would be such a major thing for tourists.’’
Mayor Helen Patsikatheodorou said the award-winning events had brought residents together.
‘‘[SunFest’s] organising committee produced an event in 2015 that delivered colour and excitement to the town centre,’’ she said.
Meanwhile, Hume’s citizen of the year award has been won by Tullamarine’s Esme Pigott, 99, who established the suburb’s community house in 1989 and still serves on its committee.
The young citizen of the year award went to Nisal Lochana Karawita, 18, a Gladstone Park Secondary College graduate who volunteers for groups that support young people in Broadmeadows.
This year’s 40th annual SunFest will be held from March 18-20.
The Macedon Ranges award winners will be announced on Australia Day.