Hahndorf the loser

The cancellation of this weekend’s Dawdle and Doodle Days will be sad news for many traders in Hahndorf.
Last year’s inaugural arts event was a hit with many visitors, especially families looking for a unique, low-cost and child-friendly attraction.
Anyone walking along the main street over the two-day event couldn’t fail to see the happiness on faces as children and adults alike channelled their inner artists to create masterpieces on the footpath.
Certainly there were concerns about some profanities written in public view and the lack of an organised clean-up after the event was over.
But organisers had taken those issues onboard and had plans in place to prevent them occurring this year.
There will certainly be no danger of that happening now, however, after the event was axed in the wake of opposition from about seven of the town’s traders.
Some were against the initiative because it “encourages people to be outside shops … not inside”.
“How does this encourage trade?” they asked.
Then there was the ludicrous accusation that by doodling with a stick of chalk on a footpath a child will somehow morph into a future juvenile delinquent tagging public buildings with spray paint.
But their opposition did not stop there, with reports that some traders even levelled personal attacks and legal threats against organisers.
This petty, vindictive behavior smacks of the narrow-mindedness of a few at a cost to many other businesses in the town.
There will be no excuse now for families to linger in the street this weekend – perhaps to stay longer than they might have otherwise and enjoy lunch or an ice-cream.
There will be no colorful art on the footpath to draw visitors further along the street than they might have otherwise walked – and into a shop that catches their eye.
Certainly the event might not be a drawcard that would benefit all traders, but the actions of these few have ensured it will now benefit none.
As organiser Mikyla Gilbert rightly points out, the Adelaide Hills is a destination for day-trip visitors.
If we want people to stay longer, visit more places and spend more money, then we need to give them reasons to do so and innovative events such as the Dawdle and Doodle Days provide such an excuse.
The event enjoyed the support of both the Mt Barker Council and the Hahndorf Business and Tourism Association.
It will be interesting to see if another town believes the idea has merit and adopts such a day as a promotional tool.

For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.