Ballina is sure to give bowlers a ball
SOME of Australia's best lawn bowlers and their families will converge on Ballina this weekend for the prestige Summerland Series at the Cherry St Bowling Club.
Now in its 56th year, the event provides a huge boost for the Ballina economy - an extra dollop of cream on top of the reliably busy Christmas-New Year holiday season.
A total 60 clubs from up and down the East Coast were expected to be fielding players in the event, with players from as far away as New Zealand, Dubbo and the Sunshine Coast.
Up for grabs is $22,000 in prize money with the $11,000 pairs event kicking off today until Monday.
The $11,000 singles event kicks off next weekend.
Assistant bowls co-ordinator at Cherry St, Neville Dunne, estimated the event would bring about 600 extra people to the town, all staying up to two weeks.
The pairs and singles event each had more than 100 entries and most of the out-of-towners turned the event into a family holiday.
"You probably couldn't get a room at any motel during the coming week," Mr Dunne said.
"They're here till the Monday or Tuesday after the singles, and if they want to spend a bit more time with their kids they'll spend a couple of extra days at the beach."
Manager of the Ballina Heritage Inn John Fitzgerald said his motel was reliably full this time of year.
"Our motel will be full for the next fortnight at least," Mr Fitzgerald said.
Mr Fitzgerald said the event was an example of how important sporting events were for the town.
He said another bowling event that drew big crowds this year was the state in July and next week an annual junior cricket tournament kicks off that is always reliable for numbers.
"It's the sort of stuff Ballina needs a lot of," he said.
"Any town, especially a tourist town, needs these kinds of events to thrive."
According to the Ballina Visitor Information Centre, accommodation bookings over the last two years have increased quite dramatically.
Major events are a key driver of the tourist economy in Ballina, with other non-sporting festivals including the Coastal Country Music Festival, the Fine Food and Wine Festival and the recently introduced Prawn Festival also highly valuable to local businesses.
Summerland Series bowls tournament
Cherry St Bowling Club from today
Players will be competing for $22,000 in prize money.
The event is divided into Summerland Singles and Summerland Pairs.
Men's Summerland Pairs 27-29 December
Men's Summerland Singles 2-4 January.