By Darren Stones
Artists will shine during the June long weekend in Grenfell, New South Wales. Painters, poets, photographers and writers will be celebrated as they are awarded the highly sought-after bronze statuettes in their respective categories. Some artists will travel vast distances from around Australia to catch-up with old friends and enjoy a bit of a yarn.
The Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival of Arts provides a unique and valuable opportunity to mix with fellow artists. As a photographer, learning about what other artists do and their motivation for doing it, does inspire me greatly. I've made good friends in Grenfell and sat with some around the crackling camp fire while sipping tea and eating damper while listening to the poets at the Henry Lawson obelisk.
Grenfell's 55th Henry Lawson Festival of Arts is certain to produce a great vibe. You might like to come along and see the guinea pigs fly, watch the singlet-wearing blokes at the woodchop, eat a sausage in bread while listening to buskers, enjoy a dramatic play, recite a poem or two, or participate in a travel photography workshop.
The woodchop competition sure draws a crowd, and with the chips flying outside the Railway Hotel, onlookers will be cheering loudly. It's one of the most popular attractions during the festival, and I've seen some of the crafty old blokes beat the young axemen in the various events.
I vividly remember the street parade in 2008 where I saw a young girl riding a bull. Being a city slicker from Melbourne, that's not something I see every day of the week. The parade is always a great spectacle and a perfect opportunity to get involved and take photographs. Community groups, school children, Cobb & Co, vintage car clubs, the Grenfell Town Band, dance groups, and various other floats add colour and noise to the festival's most popular event.
For a small town, Grenfell puts on a big show, and they do it with gusto. You can browse through the art exhibition and snap up a bargain or two. The photography exhibitions display award-winning photographs that would look great hanging on a wall. A wide variety of street stalls cater to those with a sweet tooth and those who need clobber.
This year's festival theme is "The life and times of Henry Lawson 1867-1922." Henry was a bit of a character, and a great writer who is part of Australian folklore. He was born on the Grenfell goldfields and an obelisk is located on the spot where he was born. Whenever I visit Henry's obelisk, I feel like I'm in a sacred place.
The Festival Queen is back on this year's program and it's sure to attract local beauties. The ladies will be doing their best to raise monies for local charities, and the winner will go on to represent the festival for the following 12 months.
I'm certain the Grenfell people would roll out the red carpet if they had some, but a handshake or a kiss on the cheek is a given. Come along, have fun, and enjoy a great celebration of the arts.
The 55th Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival of Arts will be held on 8-11 June, 2012.