Gravity Festival

Standing on Vernon Street in Macclesfield on Sunday afternoon it was easy to see why the town’s Gravity Festival had become such a success in just two years.

It’s a festival of go-karts and bikes which brings local families and the wider community together and encourages participation.

Not just participation on the day but in weeks of planning by parents and their children in the design and building of bikes and go carts in backyard sheds across the district.

That’s why it was such a tragedy when one go-kart driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a crowd of spectators at the bottom of the track.

With two young boys airlifted to hospital and three other people injured, the organisers made the right decision to bring the event to an early close.

The conditions of the victims are unknown at this stage but hopefully their injuries are not too severe and they enjoy a speedy recovery.

The accident was an tragic end to a great weekend of racing.

Hopefully some good comes from it and it leads to the development of a foolproof safety plan – something that is needed to keep the festival running into the future.

It is already a hugely successful event and has the potential to continue growing.

The inaugural event last year was staged over one day but still drew over 2000 spectators to the small town.

The 2013 race was run on the same Vernon Street track but was designed slightly differently.

Metal safety barriers lined the sides of the track past the finish line and right down to the end where the vehicles stopped.

This year the bottom of the course was extended to give the drivers a greater distance to slow down after each race.

However, there was a small section of track after the finish line where only plastic cones and bunting separated spectators from the carts as they slowed to a stop.

Unfortunately this is where the accident took place.

Every new event has teething problems, but this was a serious safety shortfall that needs to be addressed.

The community has already begun to rally around the event organisers on the festival’s official Facebook page.

Residents and participants have expressed their sympathies for those injured, along with their hope that the accident does not result in the event’s demise.

The Gravity Festival drew fathers, sons and families out of their lounge rooms and back into their sheds … just like the old days.

It’s good for the town and the wider Hills community and hopefully it has a bright  future.