profile of Eliza Goetze

Rainbow Serpent may slither to a halt due to safety red tape

Nearly nine thousand binie-and-glitter clad festival fanatics have signed a petition to stop the cancellation of the Rainbow Serpent Festival in Lexton, Victoria, which is scheduled to start in just eight days.

The festival, famous for it's three days of psychedelic and trance music, art, performance, “spiritual education, relaxation and healing” and immutable cult following, hit the brakes this week after the Pyrenees Shire Council denied their application for a Places of Public Entertainment (POPE) permit because the organisers failed to meet the relevant safety requirements.

Organisers are now in talks with the council to fast-track approval in a last-ditch effort to continue the event, which has run for the past 15 years. This year, organiser have sold more than 10,000 tickets for event, which is set to run from January 25-28.

The event’s original fire and medical services provider abandoned the venture last Monday, and Ambulance Victoria and the Regional CFA reportedly did not have confidence in the new appointments. Rainbow Serpent is held in bushland in the heart of Western Victoria, forty kilometres from Chepstowe, near Ballarat, where eight houses were destroyed by bushfires last week.

Pyrenees Shire Council Mayor Michael O’Connor denied that the hold-up had anything to do with the death of 34-year-old Daniel Buccianti, who died of drug-related causes at the event last year.

Daniel’s mother, Adrianna Buccianti, who is due to give a speech to open the festival, has emerged as a prominent figure in the campaign to save Rainbow Serpent, telling The Age it would be “a healing process for me and important to be able to honour Daniel.

“You can’t stop drugs, you can’t stop alcohol, but if I can reach 10,000 people with a positive message, that would make more of an impact than to close the event.”

Part of the petition, started by the festival organisers two days ago, reads “We understand the decision not to grant the POPE permit was due solely to concerns for the safety of all who gather for the festival…[but] It will be a complete travesty if an amicable resolution cannot be reached. Such an impasse will most likely signify the end of an important economic and cultural event.”

But there is hope for ticket holders, with the organisers this morning posting an update to Rainbow Serpent's Facebook page which suggests fire-free pyschadelic bliss may yet get the go-ahead: “After a successful and productive meeting with council yesterday we are submitting a new application this morning. Council are very supportive of the event going ahead and have offered to fast track the application. At this stage we are hopeful the event will go ahead as planned. Authority approval is still required and we are working together to achieve that. We are hopeful we will have an official response by the end of today.”

Mayor Michael O’Connor lamented the possibility of the cancellation, telling the Herald Sun “It is a popular gathering and the organisers put on a fantastic production but unfortunately, their administration is hopeless.”

Lead image via Rainbow Serpet's Facebook page.

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