Balingup is a tiny dot on the map of Western Australia, but it is home to the most creative and hard-working community of any country town I know. Each year they put on not one, but three huge festivals! Their versatile scarecrows, which are also the district emblem, leave their farms and transform into medieval knights, maidens, jesters and dragons, singing, jousting and parading in the streets during the Medieval Festival. Then, after a short rest and a lot more hard work, they become larger-than-life storybook characters for the annual Balingup Telling Tales Festival. And it’s not just the scarecrows who get into the spirit of things. The King and Queen of Hearts, Alice in Wonderland, a larger than life mouse and many other characters can be found frequenting the craft shop, the antique shop, the wool-shed and the cafes that line the main street of the town.
Originally created out of a need to give country kids a taste of the school holiday activities that their city cousins enjoy, the Telling Tales Festival has grown into a unique experience for everyone involved. Among other things, it has become an excuse for authors, illustrators, storytellers, and anyone interested in kids and books to get together. I, for one, would not want to miss this opportunity to interact with these talented people, network with my colleagues and sample all the delights of the town, which include amazing craft work, delicious food and the fascinating reminders of earlier times in the antique shop and the Historical Museum. The Festival also prompts me to develop new and different workshop sessions for its diverse audience.
So pack your bags for Balingup in the middle of the July school holidays and join the fun at the Telling Tales Festival on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th July.
See you there.