The Mirror News

Prom Coast Seachange proves a swell festival

NOT for nothing have they been nicknamed the Dream Team! The hardworking individuals who make up the Prom Coast Seachange Festival committee last weekend notched up their third successful festival. Thanks to their organisational skills, the festival ran like clockwork. This was despite such hiccups as the inclement weather which forced Sunday’s street lunch to be moved into Foster’s main hall.

The official opening of the festival was celebrated in the Foster War Memorial Arts Centre on Friday night, prior to a supper show of FAMDA’s ‘Cabaretro,’ with the Member for Gippsland South, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, delighted to do the honours.

Mr Ryan acclaimed the festival as “one of the great events in the Corner Inlet area”. He noted that the festival patron had been former Governor of Victoria, Professor David de Kretser (a weekend resident of South Gippsland), and joked that he would suggest to the new governor, Alex Chernov, whose inauguration he had witnessed that day, that he take over the role of patron as part of his gubernatorial duties!

Mr Ryan stressed that it was much more than a festival for Foster, being very much for all the communities of Corner Inlet. “It has fine food, lovely wines, plenty of drama, great music – something for everybody. As a matter of fact, I’m about to rush off to see Elvis at Welshpool!”

Recounting how busy he had been in recent weeks dealing with a “battered and somewhat broken” Wilsons Promontory, the result of devastating flooding, he said that he was proud to have had government money allocated to the Prom, as he knew its importance to the Corner Inlet community.

“It’s incredibly important to all of us that we have the Prom restored and have it up and running again,” he said.

Finally, Mr Ryan congratulated everyone associated with the Prom Coast Seachange Festival, saying “it is testament to who we are”.

The chair of the festival committee, Joan Liley, thanked Mr Ryan and acknowledged the festival’s many sponsors, in particular major sponsors Toora and Foster Community Bank Branches of Bendigo Bank, South Gippsland Shire and Esso BHP-Billiton. She said the biennial festival had been going from strength to strength.

“For the first time people approached the committee and asked to be a part,” she said.

Speaking to The Mirror on Monday, after most of the festival events had wound up, Ms Liley was exhausted but very happy. She said that the festival had been a huge success, with more people than ever in attendance.

“There were lots of people from out of town, but also lots of locals appear to have taken the festival to their hearts,” she said.

“There was a terrific atmosphere in the hall for the food festival on Sunday. It didn’t seem to matter that we had to have it inside because of the rain. I’d say there were more than 200 people there.”

Local businesses and regular stallholders from the local markets provided food and wine, with the hospital auxiliary ladies supplying mouth-watering cakes and slices – perennial favourites. There was music from local band Soul Purpose and from the Tree Family, and the opportunity to contribute to the 50 Cent Challenge. In this, Prue Fleming and her helpers managed to stretch the line of 50 cent pieces 78 metres, raising more than $1200 for the local hospital.

“There was additional money raised for the hospital, but we don’t yet know how much, as groups who run events at the festival are encouraged to donate a share of their profits to South Gippsland Hospital,” explained Joan Liley.

Most events attracted a lot of interest, with several entirely sold out. These included a women’s comedy night starring Mandy Nolan at the Rhythm Café on Friday, the Hypothetical in the community health centre on Sunday afternoon, and ‘Estuaries Unmasked,’ a talk on Corner Inlet’s underwater treasures presented by West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority in the Rhythm Café on Thursday night.

Another popular event was Sunday’s ‘Ask the Expert,’ at which David Freeman gave valuations of antiques and collectables brought to Foster Community House. People were happy to queue and then wait for their precious items to be valued, browsing the various antique stalls while they waited.

Local singing group ‘Bec’s Bonny Boners’ attracted a capacity crowd to the Rhythm Café on Saturday afternoon, while other people enjoyed some camp oven cooking with Juneen Schulz in the Manna Community Garden and still others chose to spend the afternoon ‘reading’ some of the ‘Living Books’ in the South Gippsland Secondary College gym. This event, organised by Jan Bull of Foster’s Little Bookshop, involved a variety of people – ‘Living Books’ – revealing interesting aspects of their lives.

On the music front, Damian Mullin as ‘Elvis the King,’ brought to the Welshpool Memorial Hall on Friday night by the Welshpool Recreation Reserve Committee, proved popular. More than 200 people attended the concert in Foster’s main hall on Saturday night, in which Aussie music icon Shane Howard (former Goanna front man) and his band performed songs from his new album ‘Goanna Dreaming’ as well as classics. He was ably supported by local band, ‘Empty Your Apron Pockets.’

For the first time, the Great Southern Portrait Prize was held in conjunction with the Seachange Festival. It proved to be a winning combination. There was lots more art on exhibition over the weekend, from the Elizabeth Paterson (Bettie Craigie) Retrospective at Fish Creek Hall to the Windows on Foster Sculpture Event, which saw some amazing sculptures displayed in the windows of various shops in Foster’s main street.

“There were lots of people through the Betty Craigie Retrospective,” said Joan Liley. “The artist’s daughters were there for much of the weekend, and they said they welcomed the opportunity to see so many examples of their mother’s work on display in the one place.”

Several events focused on the younger members of the community. There was ‘Storytelling with Margaret’ at Foster Library on Friday, with Margaret Haycroft sporting fishnet stockings in keeping, she said, with her fish theme!

‘Bubblewrap and Boxes,’ the ‘Asking for Trouble’ show brought to the primary schoolchildren of the district by the festival committee, was a great hit on Wednesday. It was a story about living bravely in a big world, told through acrobatics and clowning.

By Monday morning, with only one event still to go – ‘Workshop Your Shape,’ to be held at Fish Creek that night by The Ark Clothing Co – the chair of the so-called ‘Dream Team’ was feeling very contented.  However, Ms Liley did say that the committee would be happy to take on board any new ideas for the festival.

“We are very happy with how it has gone so far, but we welcome feedback and ideas as to the direction the Prom Coast Seachange Festival should take in the future,” she said.

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