Last hurrah for Aitken

BEST IS YET TO COME: The 14th Annual Robe Boat Show is set to be the biggest and best the town has seen according to event organiser Jamie Aitken, who will celebrate his last event as a full-time organiser before stepping back to work more behind-the-scenes. Picture: FILE

Tyler Redway

THE annual Robe Boat Show will be making its 14th outing next weekend, with a new location on the Robe Foreshore overlooking Guichen Bay.

The boat show also marks the last event which would be headed by event organiser Jamie Aitken, as he said he would be stepping back from future events for more behind-the-scenes work.

After owning a holiday house in Robe for more than 50 years, Mr Aitken decided to stay in town more regularly, as he offered his experience in event management to the District Council of Robe.

“I have managed events for quite a long time and at one stage I managed the Royal Melbourne Show which attracted 600,000 people per year, but this was a long time ago,” Mr Aitken said.

“I have owned a holiday house in Robe for about 50 years and I decided to spend a lot more time there, so I offered my services to the council to put on some events to try and help stimulate tourism.”

In the last 12 years, Mr Aitken has organised 27 events for Robe and its surrounds, which included the Beer Festival, three fly-ins and a three-day festival to commemorate the creation and the blessing of the Pai Fang, a monument on Robe’s foreshore which celebrates the Chinese migrants who arrived in Robe in 1857.

Mr Aitken said he was happy to be able to take a step back after dedicating his time to entertaining the township.

He said this year’s Robe Boat Show was set to be the “biggest and best ever” the area had seen.

“I turn 79 next month and I have run out of steam, but I love the boat show and it is the biggest and longest running event Robe has had,” Mr Aitken said.

“It has been very successful and averages at about two and a half thousand visitors it brings to Robe each year so if you consider this over 14 years it has been a hell of a boost to the local economy.

“I really wanted a lineup of terrific boats, cars, caravans and agricultural equipment to interest the people of the region.

“To add to this, there will be a wonderful music event and the best food and wine in the region.”

Mr Aitken said the event would be taken over by Focused Expeditions and Chris Matthews; a close friend of Mr Aitken’s.

“I’m happy because Chris Matthews has been involved in every boat show, so he knows exactly what the elements are which make it successful,” Mr Aitken said.

“I have no doubt he will do a terrific job moving into the future and of course I’ll be around whenever he wants to bounce something off me.

“I’ll keep doing some things behind the scenes just because I love it so while I’m well enough, I’ll keep on doing what I can.”

Mr Aitken said he has enjoyed being able to work with his community while providing entertainment suited to all age groups and interests for both visitors and locals.

“The most rewarding and enjoyable part of all of these activities is working with the people of Robe because they are a wonderful group of people,” he said.

“They’re fantastic young and smart people doing some very exciting things in Robe now like food, wine breweries, art, music and the whole nine yards which I have found very stimulating and rewarding.

“Robe has a lot going for it, so a few events like this will be just like the icing on the cake.”

The 2024 Robe Boat Show will run from February 17-18 and will be hosted in the new location of the Robe Foreshore.