Performing arts festival to start

ONE of the biggest festivals of the year on the Tweed gets under way in Murwillumbah today with nearly 200 schoolchildren performing in the town's civic centre.

Over the next four weeks about 6000 competitors accompanied by thousands of supporters, family members, teachers and spectators are due to pour into the town for the annual Murwillumbah Festival of Performing Arts.

Many have booked accommodation, and businesses in the town are looking forward to the next few weeks.

“They are coming from everywhere, from Newcastle to up past the Sunshine Coast,” said festival president and secretary Arthur Holmes.

“We have about 6000 competitors overall,” he said.

“We have had to extend the program by two days to July 16 and we are going to go right through without a day off.”

Mr Holmes said preparations, which included last-minute setting up in the civic centre auditorium yesterday, had taken all year.

“We have to bring adjudicators, give them accommodation for all the time they are here and feed them,” he added.

“The catering thing is a bit of an effort as well.

“It's getting quite expensive, which is why we have sponsorships for the different sessions.”

This year's annual festival is the 79th, but Mr Holmes said plans were already being made for the 80th next year “which we are hoping will be something special”.

Mr Holmes said it was important for local people to turn up in the role of spectators.

“We do need audience, first of all to encourage.

“There is nothing worse than performing in front of nobody.

“Come along and support our young people who are trying to do the right thing.”

Today's performances kick off at 9am with poetry, humorous verse and prose reading by nine-year-old students.

Volunteer assistants are still being sought, and anyone who is interested in helping is asked to leave their details at the auditorium foyer.



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