A grander Pesta Sibu Jaya in the works

Sempurai (second right) presenting a souvenir to Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian while (from left) SRDC deputy chairman councillor Robert Lau Hui Yew, and organising chairman Councillor Kong Chek King look on at the closing of Pesta Sibu Jaya.

THE Sibu Jaya Festival 2017, featuring 17 exciting and fun-filled events, was a roaring success, attracting huge crowds over the three days it was held.

The Festival from Oct 6 to 8, helped put this burgeoning township of 30,000 people in the spotlight. And owing to the overwhelming response, the organiser, the Rural District Council (SRDC), is already planning a grander event next round with the hppe of including it in the Sarawak Tourism Calendar.

(From third right) Sempurai and political secretary to Chief Minister Edwin Banta with participants of the Sibu Jaya Mountain Bike Challenge 2017.

The inaugural Sibu Jaya Mountain Bike Challenge 2017, the Festival’s signature event this year, drew more than 100 cyclists from Sibu, Kuching, Bintulu and Miri — plus one from as far as Selangor.

thesundaypost spoke to SRDC chairman, councillor Sempurai Petrus Ngelai, on their plan for the Festival next year.

“Yes, our next step is to put Pesta Sibu Jaya in the Sarawak Tourism Calendar. To do that, we need a signature event or something that can attract participants outside Sibu and the Central Region, especially from Kuching, Bintulu, Miri, Sabah and West Malaysia.

“To me, this year’s Pesta Sibu Jaya is very successful. The Council certainly needs to do early planning in terms of promotion, financial support and sponsorship to make the event bigger and better.

“Currently, we are making Sibu Jaya Mountain Bike Challenge our signature event. I personally believe it has the potential to become a state event, based on the good response. We were able to attract cyclists throughout Sarawak — and one from outside the state — Petaling Jaya, Selangor.”

Sempurai (second right) and the other officials attempting to lift a tyre used in the Strong Challenge event.

Sempurai opined that the Sibu Jaya Mountain Bike Challenge and other extreme sports events could also help spot and groom latent talents to represent Sibu as well as participate in the Sarawak Extreme Sports Game and XGame, Sukma or even the SEA Games.

“Yes, with the good response, we will be planning a bigger Mountain Bike Challenge next year. This is first time we organised Mountain Bike Challenge in Pesta Sibu Jaya. We’re looking at the potential of the event becoming a sports tourism attraction.”

Mountain Bike Challenge riders negotiating their way downhill over rough terrain.

He revealed they were looking into organising more extreme sports for local youths in Sibu Jaya especially and Sibu generally, adding that extreme sport fans and enthusiats could help to create business opportunities for the local business community as well.

In terms of attendance, Sempurai noted more than 1,000 people turned up for the closing ceremony on Oct 8.

On the first two days, the turnout was also very encouraging even though other events were held in Julau and Kanowit a week earlier, he pointed out.

Sempurai said next year, the Council might organise a longer event, instead of over just three days, pointing out that based on this year’s experience, holding 17 events in three days was too rushed and crammed.

A rider exhibiting his bike-handling skills.

This year’s Festival was themed ‘Young, Vibrant, Extreme’.

The other events included Strongman Challenge, Miss Sibu Jaya Beauty Contest, Battle of the Band, Hash Run, Tug of War, Explore Race, Mr Body Smart, Eating Competition, Big Bike Show, Auto Show, 3×3 Basketball Challenge, Zumba, Kid Fashion Show, Flower Decoration Competition, English Reading and Telematch, Kite Flying Show, Fancy Dress/Superhero and Superwoman Dress among others.

Sempurai is confident the Festival would help promote Sibu Jaya not only as a modern and vibrant township but also a major transportation hub when the Pan Borneo Highway is completed.

The Miss Sibu Jaya Beauty Contest.

He said with the Sibu Airport nearby and the rapid development of Sibu Jaya and the surrounding areas, the Council needed to plan more proactively and with foresight to bring about greatre progress.

“That’s why to me, the Sibu Jaya Mountain Bike Challenge is not just a festival event, organised by the Council as one of the community programmes, but also a catalyst for the development of Sibu Jaya township into a modern and vibrant town of Sibu.”

Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin officiated at the opening on Oct 6. Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian closed the event on Oct 8.

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