Fair Day at Mardi Gras 2024 Has Been Cancelled Due to Asbestos in Victoria Park's Mulch

"This is an incredibly disappointing decision, as Fair Day is a pivotal part of the Mardi Gras calendar. But we have to put the safety of our community first," said Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
Sarah Ward
Published on February 14, 2024

Two days before kicking off for 2024, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has announced that one of its beloved annual events has been cancelled, with Fair Day no longer happening this year. Usually attracting over 70,000 attendees, the free celebration was set to take over Victoria Park on Sunday, February 18, but has been scrapped after asbestos was found in the venue's mulch.

"On Monday, February 12, following advice from the Environment Protection Authority about possible asbestos contamination in mulch, test results found bonded asbestos at Victoria Park," said The City of Sydney and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in a combined statement released on Wednesday, February 14.

"The City and Sydney Mardi Gras have been working together closely over the past two days to coordinate cleanup of the affected areas while bumping in Fair Day infrastructure in time to hold the event," the announcement continues.

"Following a more detailed investigation into the safety concerns at Victoria Park, it has become clear to the City and Sydney Mardi Gras that an event of the scale of Fair Day is unable to proceed this Sunday."

A massive drawcard at the 17-day festival, Fair Day was due to see Melissa Tkautz break out 'Read My Lips'; talents from & Juliet perform; and LION, Paul Capsis, Royston Noell and DJ Nate also take to the stage. The doggywood pageant, karaoke cave, drag king games and First Nations circle were all also on the agenda.

"This is an incredibly disappointing decision, as Fair Day is a pivotal part of the Mardi Gras calendar. But we have to put the safety of our community first," said Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore AO.

"We will continue to work with Mardi Gras once the asbestos issue is resolved. Today's decision underscores how serious this is. The NSW Government and the EPA must make sure this never happens again."

"Fair Day is one of our most loved events, and is attended by over 70,000 people each year. It breaks our heart to see this Sunday not go ahead, but given the safety concerns we must put our communities' wellbeing first," added Mardi Gras CEO Gil Beckwith.

"This cancellation is a setback, however it presents us with an opportunity to unite and support one another more strongly. The rest of our festival continues unchanged, offering many chances over the 17 days for our communities to come together in celebration and solidarity."

On Tuesday, February 13, The City of Sydney advised that asbestos had been found in mulch at not only Victoria Park, but also Belmore Park and Surry Hills' Harmony Park. Testing is being undertaken in another 32 parks in the local government area.

Sydneysiders are urged to avoid the mulched garden beds at the affected parks, as well as mulched areas beneath trees. If asbestos is found, the mulched areas will be fenced off and signs erected.

The below parks are currently undergoing testing:

Arcadia Park, Forest Lodge
AV Henry Reserve, Forest Lodge
Bicentennial Park 1, Glebe
Bicentennial Park 2, Glebe
Blackwattle Bay Park, Glebe
Chippendale Green, Chippendale
Clyne Reserve, Millers Point
Cook & Phillip Park, Sydney
Creek Street Reserve, Forest Lodge
Dr H J Foley Rest Park, Glebe
Frog Hollow Reserve, Surry Hills
Giba Park, Pyrmont
Harold Park, Forest Lodge
James Watkinson Reserve, Pyrmont
John Street Reserve, Glebe
Jubilee Park, Glebe
Larkin Street Park, Camperdown
Minogue Reserve, Glebe
Munn Reserve, Millers Point
Observatory Hill Park, Millers Point
Orphan School Creek, Forest Lodge
Paradise Reserve, Pyrmont
Pirrama Park, Pyrmont
Pottinger Park West, Dawes Point
Quarry St Streetscape and Steps, Ultimo
Robyn Kemmis Reserve, Glebe
Seamer Street Reserve, Glebe
St James Park, Glebe
Stewart Street Glebe Reserve, Glebe
Toxteth Park, Glebe
Wentworth Park, Ultimo
Wood Street Playground, Forest Lodge

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2024 runs from Friday, February 16–Sunday, March 3, 2024. For more information, or for tickets, head to the event's website.

Fair Day will no longer take place on Sunday, February 18 at Victoria Park. Head to the event's website for more details.

Images: Ann-Marie Calilhanna / Jeffrey Feng.

Published on February 14, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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