Rural Council declares Origin fan day a public holiday
RUGBY LEAGUE: A day off to watch the footy is a rare occasion for Charleville, and one the region will celebrate when the State of Origin fan day comes to town next month.
May 28 has been officially gazetted as a public holiday for the Murweh shire to host the event, which has generated a buzz in Charleville since the announcement was made at the Adrian Vowles Cup in February.
"When the announcement was made, we had applied for the event to have its own pubic holiday, so at the time we were just waiting on a reply from the minister," Murweh shire mayor Annie Liston said.
"It was important for council to apply for the public holiday because of the distance that people will be travelling to get here - even Thargomindah is very interested in coming, and that is a four hour trip.
"You want them to be able to come and enjoy the day, which is why we went for a public holiday.
"Usually, Murweh and all the other shires would never get an chance to be there while the State of Origin team are training, so I think it is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to come and be involved in it."
The annual fan day for the Queensland State of Origin side has historically attracted large crowds to regional towns.
Last year, the event was held on the Fraser Coast, and attracted more than 6000 people.
"The team is looking forward to the fan day; it is a big commitment, but also a huge lift for the team," QRL spokesman Michael Hillier said.
"There will be activities and entertainment for families, drills with NRL development officers throughout the day, as well as opportunities for players to sign autographs.
"Best of all, the day in Charleville will be the guys' first training session for the State of Origin series."
While last year's attendance figure practically doubled the entire population of Charleville, Cr Liston believes the fan day will still receive a raucous reception.
"Football is such a big thing in our region and we are trying to ramp it up as much as possible," she said.
"We have a lot of people who are trying really hard to keep our own local football going, and this is a good injection to that.
"It is also a way to say 'this can happen in Murweh'."