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Queenstown Bike Festival has been mothballed at the eleventh hour for 2017.

Owner Geoff Hunt says he’s been in negotiations since Christmas to sell the festival to a local group but the sale fell through last month.

It means all festival events have been cancelled. It was due to run from this Saturday to April 16.

“I won’t be doing anything this year,” Hunt says.

“I thought I’d sold it but then they decided not to buy it.

“It takes time to pull these things together and get sponsors so it’s been put on hold until next year.”

The annual bike fest, which would have been in its seventh year, has attracted more than 1600 competitors in previous years.

High-profile events included a slopestyle in Ballarat Street carpark, the Mega Avalanche down the Remarkables, and the Dirtmasters Downhill has featured world-class international talent.

Queenstown Mountain Bike Club president Jimmy Carling says there’ll be disappointment.

“Obviously in the past it’s always had some good events and drawn some big crowds so hopefully it’ll be back in some form in the future.”

He says entry fees to some events were at the top end of what locals were prepared to pay.

“That alienated some people – they’re amazing events but also cost a bit of money to put on.

“But it’s a good part of the scene and hopefully it can be sorted out.”

Hunt, whose events company Southern Traverse Ltd owns the festival, also went close to selling the fest early last year.

“There are some key events I’d like to see happen again but they can be marginal.

“The slopestyle, for example, was fantastic and it would have been lovely to run it this year as a tribute to Kelly McGarry.

“But it’s an expensive event to run with the location and $12,000 to get the dirt dumped and taken away again.”

The event was in the past sponsored by Teva and Veolia.

“It wasn’t a money-maker though. If you’re a small event company you can’t afford to have loss leaders.”

Two mountain bike events are happening over the next two weekends.

There’s the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club fundraiser 7hr of 7Mile, a $30 enduro race and party at Wilson Bay today.

The Vertigo Bikes-sponsored downhill series round three will be held at Queenstown Bike Park the following week.

But neither are bike fest-branded.

Some events are already organised at arm’s length, such as the 16-inch world champs, but no one’s stepped forward this year, he says.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz