By CHERIE MOSELEN
THERE are some realities organisers can do without when readying a large group for an outdoor celebration. Like, for example, continuous rain.
Even Town Crier Ian Craig was heard trying to auction off his velvet frock coat to the lowest bidder in light of wet conditions before Saturday morning’s Grand Parade.
But the weather gods certainly took pity on Warrandyte Festival last month, ending heavy showers before they dampened crowd enthusiasm.
Kids in kangaroo tails, mini monsters, this year’s festival theme Boogie in the Bush produced some fantastic costumes. (See parade awards).
Warrandyte Neighbourhood House waved their boogie boards, while the team from Riveresque looked right at home wearing the curtains.
Light show projectionist Hugh McSpedden, (famously first to light up the Exhibition Building in Melbourne) and accomplished musician and botany lover Glen Jameson, were this year’s parade monarchs.
Warrandyte’s Emperor of Luminosity stole the show somewhat with his fanciful pairing of giant turban and cow print pants. Arabian Nights meets pyjama party, perhaps?
Monarchs and entourage floated down Yarra Street on a “magic carpet”, stately and dignified bar the occasional honk from a squeaky clown horn. (Vintage McSpedden).
Meanwhile, down at Stiggants Reserve, festival committee volunteers showed their true colours having shovelled mulch over much of the site to combat boggy conditions.
Numbers were a little thinner on Saturday but wet weather aside, the popular village celebration unfolded with ease.
A Welcome to Country and introduction from local councillors, then it was time to put on those boogie shoes and get around some fabulous food and entertainment.
As you would expect from an event that attracts upwards of 10,000 people, there was a lot to see and do.
I didn’t make it to the tango lessons on Saturday evening, but heard they were a huge hit. Here are some things that kept me entertained over Warrandyte’s biggest weekend.
Crowd pleaser: Crazy energy and an irresistible beat from drumming ensemble African Star had audience members dancing up a storm at the Riverbank stage on Saturday. Nobody cared about the actual rain. Bow to the rhythm!
Gozleme grace: There was some- thing serene and comforting about the ladies in white from Turkish Kitchen & Catering, calmly rolling out their pastry amid the hubbub. Most importantly, weren’t those little parcels delicious?
Move over bananas in pyjamas: Colourful costumes, stacks of talent, the Funky Monkeys musical act and circus show made me wish my teen- age boys were small again. (Yes, they were that good.)
Who’s news? The Diary decided to put the community into the community newspaper this year, rigging up a frame so people could have their photo taken celebrity-style. Congratulations if you were front page news over the weekend!
Eastern FM 98.1. A long-time festival favourite, this community radio station kept the crooners coming, pumping out familiar tunes in between announcements. Because, who doesn’t love a bit of Harry Connick with their coffee?
Second is the new first. She didn’t win. She managed second. However, her happy grin said it was just as good. Aboriginal art exhibitor Loz told the Diary she’d been trying to win Sunday’s iconic duck race for years. Next year, Lorraine, next year…
Transport Tribute: Nillumbik council donated the use of a shuttle bus and two staff to take people who needed it, back and forth between the festival ground and the commu- nity centre. Hats off, for providing these much appreciated free rides.
Caravan of care: Whether the quandary was “toilet paper?” or “I’ve lost my children”, the staff in the information caravan dealt with it expertly. One shy little girl buying a drink admitted to “only having not really enough money”. Top notch volunteer, the man in the van Cyril Dixon gave it to her anyway.
Boogie central: I wish, like Michael Jackson, I could blame my dance moves on the boogie – and no, I hadn’t made one too many trips to the beer tent! This space was all about getting down: Hip-hop, Go Go, belly dancing and more. The lessons were tremendous fun (and Bollywood a touch harder than it looks. Just saying).
Dragon dance: If you decided to wait for the last band on Sunday evening, well done. Festival organisers pulled out a surprise finale. Huge silk dragons, lit from within, whirling through the picnic crowd. The look of awe on children’s faces: priceless.
Old favourites: It’s been a feature of this town for 39 years but still the sight of family-friendly, well-behaved festival crowds never gets old. I spent part of my weekend conducting a survey and almost everyone when I asked “what do you love about this event?” mentioned the strong sense of community.
Warrandyte Festival, you’re a gem.