By JACK MORPHET
LA FESTA organisers have denied cash has gone missing after the profit and loss statement from 2012 seemed to be tens of thouands of dollars short.
Head of the La Festa committee and deputy mayor Doug Curran flatly denied anything untoward when The Area News obtained the document showing a discrepancy of roughly $70,000 between gate takings and attendance in 2012.
"Nobody within the La Festa committee makes a cent, in fact it costs us money through things we pay out of our own pocket, so I'm 100 per cent confident there's nothing untoward going on here," Cr Curran said.
"I can assure you there's no conspiracy here, we're trying to be as honest as we can which is why we put a lot of effort into getting exact figures this year.
"We were always worried the income did not match the (attendance) figure but once (the attendance figure) became public knowledge it was difficult to go back on."
It was estimated last weekend's crowd dropped more than 20 per cent from the year before but this year was the first time an accurate head count was taken since moving to the Community Gardens.
The reporting problems occurred when the La Festa association adopted an inflated guess of attendance by police and security in 2012 and has been unable to record accurate crowd numbers until now.
Despite La Festa's website still claiming 12,000 people poured through the gates last year, actual attendance has been revised to an estimated 8000 and 2012 remains a mystery.
Organisers believe they have achieved an accurate system to record attendance and will now turn their attention to why that number is dropping.
"Initial thoughts are for a variety of reason - Deni Blues and Roots is growing, SunRice festival was very well run, Easter was in the middle of school holidays this year, increasing cost to attend," Cr Curran said.
"This year was down 1,800 in total on estimates from the year before, but we put a lot of effort into identifying numbers, by gate and by age also.
"We also put extra effort and costs into running a survey throughout the day to ascertain why people came, where they came from and how they heard about the event.
"We like the event and think it really serves a purpose in the community and overall our feedback is similar."
The association also slashed the number of free tickets to staff, volunteers and vendors from more than 500 in 2013 to roughly 300 last weekend.