OAKBANK organisers hope more than 30,000 people will flock to the historic Easter racing carnival on Saturday, bolstered by a new food and drink precinct and sunny weather.
The two-day picnic race meeting, also on Easter Monday, will be the first for Barney Gask in his new role as chair of the Oakbank Racing Club.
Mr Gask replaced John Glatz, who spent 25 years in the position, in October after the former chair announced he was stepping down.
Although organisers hope to match or better last year’s Saturday attendance of 34,975, Mr Gask said they would be happy to welcome 10,000 to 15,000 people on the Monday public holiday.
A new price of $15, subject to a $3 booking fee, for all general admission tickets — down from $25 last year — has been introduced for Easter Monday to encourage people to attend both race days.
“I think public holiday racing Australia-wide has been a bit tricky in recent times,” he said.
“(But Oakbank) is still the best attended race meeting in this state by a long way.”
Mr Gask, whose wife and former leading jockey Cheree Gask will conduct post-race interviews at the event, said a new food and drink precinct behind the main grandstands, called The Back Paddock, will be open to all event-goers.
While a top of 24C is forecast for Adelaide on Saturday, the Bureau of Meteorology predicts it will be one or two degrees cooler at Oakbank.
The Back Paddock will feature modern food trucks, stalls, champagne and Pimm’s tents and a DJ.
“We have thrown (it) out to general admission because we just want to give everyone a taste of it to see what people think,” Mr Gask said.
“We have just tried to make that a bit more of an attractive area for people because I feel like the last five years have been a bit stale in terms of what we’ve done.
“We’ve got the weather for it. We’ve probably got everything we need. Now let’s just hope people turn up.”
The new precinct will be in addition to family-friendly attractions — such as rides and amusements, a petting zoo and an Easter egg hunt — as well as the Fashion at the Races Oakbank heat.
Controversial jumps racing will remain a focal point of the carnival, after a report by a committee, delivered late last year, said it should not be banned — for now.
“We know from our own research … the majority are there because of the jumps racing,” Mr Gask said.
“I think without it, our fear is we will become just another race meeting. That point of difference we’ve got disappears.”
The first race on Saturday is at 11.58am, with the Von Doussa Steeplechase at 3.03pm.
Originally published as Carnival’s new chief rolls out picnic rug
SOURCE: newsnow sport