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Braidwood – dedication to events, fairs and festivals

Braidwood Rounds with Jill McLeod [spacer style=”1″ icon=”none”] Members of the Braidwood community just can’t help themselves. The search is forever on to find another reason to hold an event or a fair or a festival. The prime venue has bookings through to 2017 and months with four and five weekends are booked out well in advance. But we still hunger for more.

Braidwood also plays host to activities with the word ‘fete’ tacked on to the description. However, and perhaps both fortunately and sensibly, no organisation to my knowledge has used the word “bazaar” to describe its activities.

The aim of many of Braidwood’s not-for-profit organisations is to raise funds to support the carrying out of the obligatory aims and objectives of their constitutions and to initiate new ideas to draw attention to their existence.

However, we no longer rely solely on funds for which committees have worked long and hard in past decades. Grant funding is now the name of the game and some of us pitch the evidence of more easily gained financial support against any increased spontaneity, enjoyment, enlightenment or entertainment.

175th birthday party and Two Fires Festival

Braidwood celebrated its 175th birthday in April/May 2014. The permanent and lingering reminder of the Foundation Day and Street Parade weekends is a heritage path in Ryrie Park, hopefully to be added to as new families move into the district. The birthday party cost thousands of dollars compared to the shoestring funding available to earlier heritage committees.

The biennial Two Fires Festival has moved its date to fit in with iconic Australian poet Judith Wright’s 100th birthday. Current plans are to take up the period May 8 – May 17 to lead up to the May 31 birth date.

Two Fires Festival content is strong and sophisticated. Its cultural base draws participants and visitors from far and wide. Writing, poetry, music, performance and discussion of indigenous issues fill three days with interest and pure enjoyment. Struggles with inadequate funding continue to dog a hardworking committee. Emphasis on Judith’s 100th birthday has rekindled memories of the ‘Not Judith Wright Library’ debacle following her death on June 25, 2000.

Music at the Creek and Quilt Event

And now we have the prospect of two festivals falling on the same day. The popular Music at the Creek is being revived after some years. It must have been a heart searching discussion to result in the decision to hold Music at the Creek on the same weekend as this year’s Quilt Event. Accommodation businesses will not be complaining about the double-up strategy.

Quilt Event: this year’s festival dates – November 22-23 – and Braidwood will welcome you with open arms.

The Braidwood Quilt Event has been held on the fourth weekend of November since 1995. I admit to a long-term personal interest in the Quilt Event, being both a founding and life member of the NFP organisation that developed the concept engendered by a similar event held in Sisters, Oregon, USA.

The Braidwood Quilters gave the idea to the town to do with it what it wished in the hope it would lead to an improvement in Braidwood’s economy which was languishing in the mid-90s. The result has been an event that not only showcases textile artists and craftspeople of all genres, but embraces businesses, supports the largest market in the park each year, introduces a diversity of opening speakers, and offers exhibitions and information in a minimum of nine venues.

Publicity for the event is circulated world-wide. English, New Zealand and Australian niche publications with world-wide distribution such as Art Craft International and the Qantas magazine have all been pulled into service to promote Braidwood’s iconic festival. This year a French magazine distributed in Australia is being trialled.

Australian newspapers including the one you are reading now herald this year’s festival dates – November 22-23 – and Braidwood will welcome you with open arms.

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