The aptly named Telling Tales Festival in Balingup is going from strength to strength. We all know that stories can be told in a variety of ways and the Festival offers plenty of different opportunities for young people to develop skills in writing, illustrating, book binding, film making and oral story telling. This year we had more students than ever before signing up to participate in these activities.
The Blingup Town Hall was, as usual, transformed into a bookshop, a food outlet and an art and craft gallery. Then, at lunch time on Saturday, the main street of the town turned into one enormous living storybook. There was a real live Gepetto with his marionette, Pinochio, the Queen of Hearts distributing freshly baked tarts, The Mad Hatter accompanied by the rest of the card pack and the pesky little mouse who insisted on stealing our food, if we weren’t looking. That is until the farmer’s wife appeared with her giant carving knife and tried to cut off it’s tail! Earlier that day I had had my coffee served by a Cowardly Lion and my cake delivered by the Straw Man. What a wonderful experience for children and adults and hats-off to all those committed towns people.
Of course this has not happened by magic. Over the years there have been hard working local people with imagination and drive who are willing to take on organising roles and get the whole community involved in this extraordinary event. As a result Balingup has become one of those small country towns which has refused to die. Not only has it survived the natural disasters and economic downturns it has suffered over the years, it has picked itself up and reinvented itself, moving with the times, but still keeping its own unique rural charm. Balingup now has not one, but three annual Festivals which add to the town’s prosperity. There is the Small Farm Field Day, the Medieval Festival and, for the last five years, the Telling Tales Festival. Each year there are more and more students signing up to participate and more business people in the town becoming involved.
Congratulations to the hard working people of Balingup. Long may their remarkable community survive.