Information about work, life and play in Regional Australia

Monday, October 16, 2006

Festivals in Regional Australia

Photo: Land of the Beardies Festival, children's float

On the New England Australia blog I carried a story about the Land of the Beardies Festival to be held this year from 3 to 12 November. That story reminded me about one of the things I most love about Regional Australia living, the local festivals.

The festivals have different themes, but generally follow a common format. There is nearly always a procession and a major following event, usually held at the local showground. Around that are grouped a number of activities.

The whole thing is, quite simply, fun. Planning is carried out by local committees, very few regional festivals can afford staff, and begins immediately after the previous festival. Outcomes and activities are reviewed, and a plan developed.

The following months are then spent developing detailed action plans. Activity steps up as the date approaches. Venues and visiting artists have to be confirmed, volunteers and PR organised, programs printed.

The final weeks before the launch become a mad round of action. Things go wrong, tempers' fray, will we get there?

Launch day dawns. Regional Australians are generally good organisers, so much is done locally, that things generally work out. Still, there is always chaos at the start of the procession.

Even a small procession can stretch for several blocks from the start of the marshall point. People have to be told where to go, missing floats found, bands briefed. The whole thing is a major design exercise. Then start, the crowd lining the street, people clapping and yelling out comments, sweets thrown to the kids, kids running out into the road. Chaos but fun.

And then it's all over for another year.

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