GETTING READY: The little ballerinas placed second at the Performing Arts Festival.
GETTING READY: The little ballerinas placed second at the Performing Arts Festival. Leonie Eckel

Yes, Charleville's got talent

TWO hundred and seventy five performances graced stages at the Central Warrego Race Club over the weekend, when the venue hosted the Charleville Performing Arts Festival.

Poets, dancers, musicians, singers, film makers and writers were commended for their efforts in the friendly competition, established to replace the more costly eisteddfod, while still giving locals the chance to take part in an event.

Charleville Performing Arts Association president, Lance Melksham, said the competition aspect was an important focus in making the event similar to the eisteddfods of years gone by.

"From 1993 to 2011 the event was an eisteddfod, which cost a lot of money to put on, bringing out judges and paying for their accommodation and everything else.

"The change to the Performing Arts Festival a number of years ago meant it was less strict on judging.

"We still did have local judges who are qualified in their own right, but it has become more of a friendly competition, and has become more enjoyable for the children,” Mr Melkham said.

One of the most inclusive performing arts events yet, Melkham said adult participation had increased, in part credited to parents wanting to join in with their kids.

"We always start with what we call 'the spirit of the festival'.

"That event is specifically for anyone over the age of eighteen who is new to an instrument, and has been playing it for less than twelve months.

"We had Julie Bartulis get up and play bass guitar.

"She had learned that because she wanted to jam along with her daughter, who already plays guitar,” recalled Mr Melkham

"So she had been learning, and then got up on stage this weekend and did a fantastic job.”

Charleville's smallest ballerinas were also a popular group on the weekend; the tiny talents twirled their way to second place among the dancers.

The festival itself would not have happened this year, or in any previous years, if it weren't for the efforts of the Charleville Performing Arts Association's committee, Mr Melkham said.

"We have many volunteers for the festival, but our committee is at the core of it, and sometimes I don't know how those ladies do it all.

"It all starts about three months out from the event, and they've been doing it for a very long time, since the beginning.

"It can be a challenge with so many performances, but it's all worth it in the end,” he said.

"The committee do an absolutely outstanding job each and every year.

"They've pulled off a fantastic event which ended in a gala performance, with the biggest crowd yet.


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