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12 February 2020
There is just a little bit of everything and everyone!
That was just one of many comments from patrons expressing their delight as they soaked up 60 Years of Wimmera Rock performances during the weekend.
The comments from an exhausted couple as they left the dance floor at Horsham Town Hall’s Heritage Hall were true.
The festival boasted rare variety of music and stage acts – from the old, rusty and nostalgic to the new, raw and inventive – and there were people, many people, caught in a sense of reunification.
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Drifting through the crowds it was more common than not to see people, many who had obviously lost track of each other over time, embracing, slapping backs and shaking hands.
And it was all to the sounds and rhythms of popular music that had helped shape generations and culture in the Wimmera.
The occasion as a reunion of musicians and bands was a raging success.
As a large-scale entertainment event, it was just as good.
And critically, as an example of interaction between a community, performers and how to make the most of community facilities, it was a massive tick of approval. Everyone was on board.
Horsham Town Hall in particular came into its own at the weekend as two interior side-by-side venues operated simultaneously to provide an ideal platform for alternative styles of music.
In the flat-floored Heritage Hall people were pumping to the big sounds of pub rock, while in the theatre next door, fans experienced a broad mix of rock, pop and classical music in its various guises.
As event patriarch Lynton Brown said later, ‘you could let your hair down in one room and ease back down in the other’.
The festival also reminded Horsham people of the value of Maydale Pavilion, which came to life for a bush dance of which the hall was renowned, and how hotels and clubs played an important role in promoting live-music culture.
A sad absentee from activities was the open-air environment of Horsham Soundshell at Sawyer Park, which organisers had to abandon because of the threat of inclement weather.
The soundshell, a spiritual headquarters for community music in Horsham, remains an important part of the jigsaw for future events.
Horsham mayor Mark Radford is right in suggesting a need for discussions on ways to make it as weather-proof as possible.
What the weekend clearly demonstrated was that regardless of what some might think, communities across our region invariably have a spark waiting to ignite or reignite projects and events. Community engagement is everything.
Whether it be Ararat, Stawell, Warracknabeal, Nhill, Kaniva, Edenhope, Murtoa or Rupanyup as well as Horsham, we should continue to have a dip at making things happen.
Our regional events calendar already suggests it is something in which we can excel.
But getting it right is about doing the homework, understanding communities and what tickles their collective fancy, picking the right targets and being creative.
The entire February 12, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!