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Blues & Roots Festival, Chamber best in NSW

Deniliquin collected two state awards in Sydney last week.

ZOE MCMAUGH December 3, 2013 4:59am

Deniliquin has again shone on the state stage, collecting two major awards in Sydney last week.

On Thursday night, the inaugural 2013 Deni Blues & Roots Festival was announced as the gold award winner in the Festival & Events category at the NSW Tourism Awards’ gala dinner at Royal Randwick.

It also won bronze in the New Tourism Development category.

The following night, the Deniliquin Business Chamber trumped much larger centres to be named the 2013 Local Chamber of the Year at the NSW Business Chamber Business Awards at Sydney’s Australian Technology Park.

Deniliquin Mayor Lindsay Renwick applauded the two major gongs, saying both are good for Deniliquin and the wider region.

‘‘I am thrilled to be the mayor of Deniliquin,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a great effort and just goes to show the commitment of local people involved.

‘‘These are wins for Deniliquin and the whole region.’’

Chugg Entertainment project manager Nick Chugg, Play on the Plains Festival Inc general manager Kathie Heyman and employees Chloe Conder and Jill Kearney collected the Blues & Roots’ award.

Play on the Plains, which also organises the annual Deni Ute Muster, partnered music promoters Chugg Entertainment and Rob Potts Entertainment Edge in staging the inaugural Blues & Roots, which was held over two days at Easter this year.

It featured international artists Chris Isaak, Santana, Status Quo, Jimmy Cliff and Steve Miller Band and attracted an estimated 6000 people.

Play on the Plains chairman Harold Clapham said to win the gold tourism award after only the first Deni Blues & Roots Festival was an amazing feat.

‘‘It’s an absolutely fantastic result,’’ he said.

‘‘To have two state and nationally recognised festivals in Deniliquin (Blues & Roots Festival and the Deniliquin Ute Muster, which won gold at the national tourism awards earlier this year) is remarkable.

‘‘A huge amount of recognition must go to the community for what it has put in and created – it’s great recognition for a bit of hard work.

‘‘We also need to acknowledge Chugg Entertainment and Rob Potts Entertainment Edge for their commitment. For them to back it and bring such great artists to Deniliquin is amazing and I hope the town can continue to support the event.’’

Deniliquin BIG4 Holiday Park also continued its amazing run at the NSW Tourism Awards, claiming silver in the Tourist & Caravan Parks category on Thursday night.

BIG4 owner/managers Frank and Lynda White have won two gold, two silver and a bronze in the last five years.

‘‘It’s a great result and highlights exactly what we are trying to achieve,’’ Mr White said.

‘‘We’re helping make Deniliquin a tourism capital – we just keep helping to put Deniliquin on the map.’’

BIG4 Deniliquin Holiday Park was also a finalist in the NSW Business Chamber Awards on Friday night, but missed out in the Excellence in Small Business category.

Also missing out was Deniliquin’s Daniel Zrajko from All Stars Self Defence Centre who was a finalist for the Young Entrepreneur award.

Mr Zrajko and Mr and Mrs White all attended the gala event and were on hand to help Deniliquin Business Chamber executive officer Lisa Berges celebrate the win.

‘‘Winning this award is a tremendous honour and confirms that we are on the right path in supporting our members ... we are a state-leading local chamber of commerce that is continually working for the betterment of the town,’’ Mrs Berges said.

‘‘More chambers and more businesses need to be recognised for the great work they are doing, but they need to take the step to put their hand up and ask to be judged by their peers.

‘‘Deniliquin has taken the leap and been recognised by the state’s peak business organisation for delivering for our members and the wider community.’’

Celebrating its 75th year, the Deniliquin Business Chamber is the largest representative body of local business and industry in the Deniliquin area.

The Local Chamber of the Year Award recognises the achievements of a local chamber of commerce in supporting their members to maximise their potential.

Over the previous 12 months, Mrs Berges said the chamber had introduced a number of key initiatives.

‘‘These initiatives have helped the chamber to grow to over 150 members,’’ she said.

The NSW Business Chamber’s Murray-Riverina regional manager Ben Foley said he was pleased Deniliquin Business Chamber had clinched top billing.

‘‘I know how hard the Deniliquin Business Chamber has worked to make itself an important part of the local community and a first port of call for its members to get the advice and assistance they need to thrive.

‘‘This award is well deserved and makes Deniliquin a shining beacon to other regional towns about the important and successful role local chambers can play in our communities.’’

Mr Foley said the Deniliquin Chamber’s commitment to the Small Business: Too Big To Ignore national campaign, held in the lead up to the federal election, was also a highlight of the last 12 months.

He also said the Pastoral Times’ support of the campaign was unique across NSW.

‘‘To have a local newspaper support its small business community and its local chamber like the PT did was unheard of.

‘‘It’s a credit to the strong partnership the chamber and the PT has formed over many years.’’

Mr Foley added the chamber’s win was proof that being a chamber member has its benefits.

‘‘If you are a business based in or around Deniliquin and are not already a member, you really don’t know what you are missing out on,’’ he said.

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