Bunbury is among several regional towns losing what would have been a significant economic boost after the cancellation of Groovin the Moo 2024. 

The festival announced on Wednesday that not enough people had bought tickets to make the event viable — although some Bunbury locals begged to differ.

“Every one of my friends bought a ticket so they’re all a bit like, ‘Uh, okay’ so yeah, I think they’re pretty disappointed,” bartender Bailee Stalteri said.

This year’s line-up, which included Alison Wonderland, The Beaches, The Kooks, King Stingray and Claire Rosinkranz, had received criticism for its perceived lack of well-known headline acts.

Jaicie Atthowe, who went to last year’s Groovin the Moo, said she chose not to buy a ticket this year due to a “pretty mid” line-up compared to other years, with previous headliners including Billie Eilish and Fatboy Slim.

Bunbury local Jaicie Atthowe (left) enjoyed Groovin the Moo with a friend during 2023.(Supplied: Jaicie Atthowe)

She said she likely would have changed her mind closer to the date.

“I think it was probably cancelled a bit too soon. Like, it’s only been a week,” Ms Atthowe said.

Mayor disappointed by loss

In the aftermath of a gruelling pandemic, City of Bunbury Mayor Jaysen Miguel had celebrated an extension of the council’s contract with Groovin the Moo until 2026.

The festival had brought a significant cash injection to the community through employment and tourism, with the 2023 event drawing nearly 21,000 people to Hay Park in May — 74.5 per cent of which came from outside Bunbury. 

Mayor Jaysen Miguel says council money set aside for the event will go back into the town’s funding pool.(ABC South West: Sam Bold)

Like many others in the community, he was surprised to learn the 2024 event would be cancelled

The announcement came just over a week after tickets went on sale and has thrown a question mark over the viability of future festivals.

“The city’s pretty disappointed that they’re not returning because it’s pretty big for our community out here,” Mr Miguel said.

“I know it would have been a tough decision.

“We’ve just been hoping they’re able to make their way through it.”

Carey Park Football Club has been providing temporary camping options for out-of-town visitors attending the festival for years, re-investing all funds collected back into the clubs’ facilities and infrastructure.

The football club says the cancellation is a sizeable financial loss in terms of fundraising.( ABC South West: Ethan French)

“The club is obviously disappointed at the promoter’s decision to cancel the Bunbury festival for 2024,” a spokesperson said.

“The supporting camping event at Kelly Park has been our major club fundraiser each year.”

The spokesperson said that while they were well into their planning and application process for this year’s festival, they had not yet paid any deposits for services.

Loss to be felt by all

Regional events organiser Ross Macpherson said the economic impact of the cancellation would be felt by all the towns and locations lined up to host the event — including Bendigo, Newcastle, the Sunshine Coast, Canberra and Wayville in Adelaide.

The Macro Music co-founder said everyone from local food vendors to electricians and portable toilet suppliers would now miss out on a significant contract. 

“We’re talking about literally millions and millions of dollars of economic benefit to a city from a show like this,” Mr Macpherson said.

But Mr Macpherson said he was not shocked by the decision to pull the plug. 

“You’ve got to imagine that when you put those shows together, you’re building a village for [thousands of] people that lasts for one day, and so the cost of doing that, even in the capital cities, they’re mammoth,” he said. 

He called for more funding for regional music festivals from state governments to recognise the enormous benefits such events brought to local economies.