By Rowan Forster
The future of Pakenham’s most iconic festival has been plunged into doubt amid a dire volunteer shortage.
Yakkerboo Festival is on a knife-edge; with committee president Michael Porter revealing the carnival needs five new volunteers before the end of September to remain viable.
He said it is likely the 42-year tradition will be permanently retired without an influx of support.
“We are considering shutting down the festival due to lack of interest of anyone wanting to get on the committee,” Mr Porter said.
“We are at an all-time low and are now desperate after losing three people at the recent annual general meeting but only gaining two new committee members.
“If we don’t get them we may have to make the very tough decision to cancel the 2019 festival and possibly retire it for good.
“The small team we now have just isn’t enough to run the festival.”
Mr Porter revealed his personal enjoyment of 2018’s festivity was hampered by the personal burden of having fewer hands on deck.
“Last year we were run off our feet and did not enjoy the day like we have in the past due to being so undermanned,” he added.
Volunteers are required to attend monthly 90 minute meetings to shape the future of the following year’s Yakkerboo Festival.
Despite many declaring their intentions to assist, the committee has become sceptical because many fail to follow through.
“We have had so many promises of people wanting to join our team and come to the meetings but only two have actually turned up,” Mr Porter said.
Councillor Graeme Moore, known affectionately by the community as Mr Yakkerboo, remained confident the festival would survive the rough patch.
However, Cr Moore – who keeps the monstrous green Yakkerboo in his garage – said it would be “devastating” if the festival was retired.
“I’m the carer of Yakkerboo and I don’t know what I’d do with him, I don’t know where you’d put a big green question mark type of animal,” he said.
“It’s just starting to get a lot of momentum with the community so it would be horrible to see it go.”
He said it was vital for passionate people to volunteer their time.
“It will have trouble surviving if you lost the heart and soul of the committee,” Cr Moore added.
“It needs the right balance of people that will get on the ground and do things to help out.”
Residents were shocked when they learnt of the festival’s predicament.
“I can’t believe we may lose the heart and soul of Pakenham,” Shirley McLay said.
“I’ve been going for the past decade and I can’t imagine Pakenham without it,” another supporter added.
The next meeting takes place on 26 September from 7pm at Cardinia Club’s boardroom.
Those interested can contact the Yakkerboo Festival committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.