GRIFFITH is in danger of losing its iconic citrus sculptures.
The Festival of Gardens citrus sculptures are a trademark attraction unique to the city but following the demise of Riverina Citrus (RC) earlier this year, the festival committee does not yet know who will supply the fruit for the October long weekend.
Committee chairwoman Pat Cox said a number of avenues had been pursued, but with the festival approaching in just three months, organisers were becoming anxious and time is running out.
Apart from sourcing the fruit, RC had always provided in-kind support by delivering and distributing the citrus and when the time came to disassemble the sculptures, they would take the oranges and lemons away to be juiced.
“It is absolutely vital that we have the citrus sculptures,” Mrs Cox said.
“If that’s not possible through a combined body, we may have to make approaches to individual packing houses.”
Mrs Cox said the committee would prefer not to put the onus on packing houses or growers and had approached Citrus Australia for support but had, as yet, not received any word.
The Griffith sculptures are the only ones in Australia and were based on the famous Menton sculptures of France.
Now in their 17th year, they are one of the most unique displays of any festival in Australia, according to Griffith tourism manager Rick Matkowski.
Mr Matkowski said to lose the sculptures would be devastating for the city’s tourism industry.
He said last year’s “absolutely stunning” sculptures attracted more than 20 coach-loads of visitors with countless more stopping to take photos on their way through.
“The sculptures represent all sorts of different figures and so many community groups come together to create them,” Mr Matkowski said.
“Oranges are iconic to Griffith, the sculptures are iconic and unless a group can come together and work together on this, it will present a real challenge and an ongoing problem.”
Both Mrs Cox and Mr Matkowski are requesting offers or suggestions for support.