Pubdate: Mon, 07 May 2012
Source: Coffs Coast Advocate (Australia)
Email:  02 6651 4492
Address: P.O. Box 534, Coffs Harbour, 2450
Copyright: North Coast News Pty Ltd 2012
Author: Paul Appelkamp


WHILE the number of festival-goers at this year's MardiGrass was 
down, trade and goodwill was up.

Organisers were unwilling to speculate about how many attended the 
20th anniversary drug law reform festival which normally sees as many 
as 10,000 descend on Nimbin.

Helen Wise of Nimbin Pizza and Trattoria attributed increased trade 
at her business to the fact there was no doof party this year.

The doof party has traditionally been held at secret locations 
without a development application until last year's organisers 
received large fines.

The pizza shop was open more hours than last year because visitors 
seemed to stay within the village precinct for longer.

"We have been really busy. It gets busier every year," she said.

Justin Smith, owner of fish and chips shop The Stoned Fish, said he 
also had seen more trade this year than last year.

Nimbin Hemp Embassy secretary James Moylan said people kept away 
because they were put off by police operations on roads leading to the town.

"Our whole town, a town of 600... has been trying to hold a community 
event for years and been blockaded at the beginning and end of town 
by the police to deliberately stop people from coming to express 
their views," he said.

"They only have to do it four or five times a year and the effect is 
there. People say, 'I'm not going to go'."

However, any tensions between police and MardiGrass organisers were 
not evident at the weekend and Mr Moylan conceded their relationship 
with the police had been "spark-ling".

"All the way through, we've had close liaison meetings with police, 
right up to the local area commander, and they've been brilliant," he said.

"It demonstrates when the police actively engage with the MardiGrass 
organising body, it will go out of its way to assist police."

Yesterday, police and MardiGrass organisers competed against each 
other in the "Tug of Peace" with police winning the event.

"Last year we lost because the organisers had a tractor, but this 
year we got one back," Inspector Nicole Bruce said.

Although Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone claimed they 
cheated, he tried to present police with the Cannabis Cup for their 
win, but no-one was willing to claim the prize.
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