High Voltage: It rocked!

IT is disappointing to hear negative feedback from Fremantle traders about the invigorating High Voltage event, which for me was one of the best days I have experienced in our port city during the 30+ years I have lived here.

The WA government estimates that 40,000 to 50,000 people came to the rock&roll rave, well below the anticipated 100,000. But it was a cool and overcast day, with the forecast of rain, so the time of the year for this annual event should be reconsidered, as tourism minister Roger Cook has already indicated.

For me it was a brilliant day, but a day also from which we can learn, so we can do it even better in the future. History has shown that festivals and events in Fremantle do not necessarily equate to a good day for retailers and the hospitality industry, so the feedback about High Voltage does not surprise me.

However, if one sees High Voltage as a form of destination marketing, I believe it was a good day, as many more people became aware of what Fremantle has to offer, and will hopefully return on one of the more sedate weekends when there are no road closures or events.

It was not really the kind of day to linger longer and sit at alfresco outlets, and it was pretty dark already at 4.40pm, so many people left and went home. That could not have been anticipated.

There was a bit of overkill at High Voltage. Why so many crowd control fences all along South Terrace, Marine Terrace and Norfolk Street, when what was on offer were slow moving flatbed trucks accompanied by police? 

There was no need for the fences at all, and they made crossing the roads tedious.

I mentioned to someone last Sunday that there were more high-vis vests in Fremantle than in the mining town of Karratha, so that too looked like overkill for me. 

High Voltage was a family event that was never going to require crowd control of this magnitude. A waste of money really.

Whilst I understand that the organisers tried to encourage people to come by public transport, I believe they should consider overflow parking at e.g. Fremantle Park and on the outskirts of the city, with shuttle buses bringing people to the event. 

Most people like their comfort, and some of us are plain lazy, so if they can’t come to an event by car, they simply won’t come at all.

The most important lesson is that we should not talk down this outstanding event. It was brilliant and so much fun! But we need to be aware of the need of Freo traders, who rely heavily on good weekend trade, so let’s sit down and positively reflect on how we can make High Voltage even better in the future!

Roel Loopers

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