We’re ready to move into the fun and entertainment mode from April 11-19 with the presentation of Festival Fleurieu, so bring on more than 90 events at 50 venues.
The front doors on houses, businesses, schools and many other buildings across the western Fleurieu region are being given a splash of bright art to symbolise the opening of something new and very special, while the main street of Normanville will be transformed into a European-like town square.
The remarkable support and enthusiasm among the local communities for this biennial event will attract people from interstate – and festival goers from Adelaide – here for the first time and hopefully equate to long-term financial benefit.
Incredibly, this festival was in serious danger of being canned last June, largely because of a forced cut in local council financial support and some opposition to changing the old Leafy Sea Dragon Festival, from which Festival Fleurieu has evolved.
However, a newly-formed six member board led by Greg Mackie and a 12-member planning group refused to let this event go and now communities across the western Fleurieu Peninsula are excited about presenting what they have to offer – a plethora of artistic and musical talent across valleys of heritage and culture supported by some must-visit eateries and wine stops.
Planning group co-ordinator Jill Langford described the response by the local communities as a wonderful success story and an example of real Australian spirit.
“Yes, the festival was in danger of being cancelled,” Jill said. “But we just wanted to do it because everyone is passionate and community minded… the community has been right behind us on this from the moment we started putting the program together.
“We made time on Monday nights to get into a community bus and go to every region from last September to engage with the people and ask them what they would like to do for the festival. It worked really well.
“We went to Cape Jervis, Inman Valley, Myponga, Normanville, Carrickalinga and Second Valley, and here in Yankalilla and surrounding hamlets.
“We had a good group of local people come out to the meetings and they put in lots of event registrations.
“It was in doubt at one stage, but we now have formed a wonderful partnership with the Yankalilla Council and they are just helping us with so many things.
“The people down here loved the Leafy Sea Dragon name for the festival – it represented and identified the area for over 10 years as their own, but outside of here further afield to Adelaide it was seen as a local festival. Because of that it was perhaps not as attractive as having a broad appeal.
“Winnie Pelz, a community member, came up with the new name Festival Fleurieu, and the board decided to go with that… it is still 99 per cent local festival, but it gives a broader appeal and we have been able to add people and events from outside the area like Bruce Hancock, who is head of jazz at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide, and Dave Loew, a cellist with the London Symphony Orchestra.
“The festival has gone to another level with everything. It is still showcasing our local artists, but by bringing a few extra things we hope it will attract more people from Adelaide to see this beautiful part of the state. Something like this is just brilliant for the region.”
There will be so much to enjoy at Festival Fleurieu including:
Artists studio trail… go into the studios of 15 brilliant artists and talk about their art
Discover the history of the local environment and heritage… take a walk, study the bird life, immerse yourself in a museum
Enjoy the long list of events with a difference like the Cape Jervis Big Fish competition, a great movie night, groove to jazz, see how beer is brewed and come alive with the free street party in the main street of Normanville on April 11 from 10am-4pm.
Get a taste of art in so many forms, like the traditional paintings, jewellery displays, mosaics, the Inman Quilters exhibition at the classic Inman Valley Memorial Hall, and go across the road to the Country Kitchen for a historical photo display and some amazing food
Literature is a big part of this western Fleurieu community, and be entertained by some clever bush poets. Of course, there are the numerous music performances – something for everyone – plus a host of events specifically for children of all ages including illustration and street painting workshops
The western Fleurieu has so much to offer, but it is perhaps best known for its sensational wining and dining – you can have a light luncheon with Peter Goers, a Bollywood and fashion show at the Cape Jervis Tavern, and some of the finest foods and wines with entertainment at some special places.