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The Beer, Footy & Food Festival is back!
Promising to be bigger and better in its second year, the Beer, Footy & Food Festival will once again be hosted by the Music and Booze Company at Henson Park. This year's festival promises to be a celebration of the Jets, footy, family, community and of course, beer.
Beer and Footy Festival 2016 - Image Courtesy of the Festival's Facebook Page
On Saturday 22 July 2017, you can go and support the beloved Newtown Jets (an institution known affectionately by long time locals as the 'Bluebags') as they take on the NZ Warriors. You'll enjoy a long held Inner West tradition; A relaxing Saturday afternoon, kicking back on the hill with friends and family watching footy, enjoying some tasty food and washing it all down with a great beer.
Last year's festival was a blast. My husband, toddler and I loved sitting in the afternoon sun on a picnic blanket, enjoying the selection of craft beers while catching up with friends. We even managed to catch a bit of the footy!
Be sure to mark this Festival in your calendar for a fun day out for the whole family.
There will be food stalls which are proudly local including - The peeps from The Rising Sun Workshop will be firing up the grill, The Lady Hampshire from Camperdown who will serve their famous burgers, and you can indulge with gelato from the award-winning and ever so popular Cow and Moon - Gelato/Coffee/Dessert Bar.
This year there will be plenty of fun for the kids with a petting zoo, jumping castle and face painting.
The Park was formerly the site of Daley's brick pit. Marrickville Council purchased the site after Daley's closed and it became dangerous to the community. A grant allowed the oval to be created and the work was completed as part of the Unemployment Relief Scheme.
The oval was named after William Henson, Mayor of Marrickville in 1902, 1906 to 1908 and his son Alfred Henson, an Alderman of Marrickville Council from 1922 to 1931.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
The park was officially opened on 2 September 1933. It was celebrated with a cricket match between Marrickville Eleven team and a North Sydney District team, including Don Bradman (yes, THE Sir Donald Bradman) playing his debut match for North Sydney. Today the park is an off leash dog park and sports oval and the home ground to the Newtown Jets.
The Newtown Jets are a club who are over 100 years old. One of the original nine foundation clubs when league broke ranks from union, they formed as the Newtown Rugby League Football Club on January 8, 1908. Nicknamed the 'Bluebags' and more recently 'The Jets' they are the team that has been synonymous with the area and its traditional working class residents since their inception.
Newtown Jets players Ryan Verlinden and Jackson Hastings celebrate after scoring against Wests Tigers - image courtesy of www.localnewsplus.com.au
Fast forward to the present day and as you enter the "Charlie Meader Memorial Gates", dedicated to Charlie Meader for his longtime service as caretaker/groundskeeper of the park (he also happened to be a son of a former employee of the brick pit), you cannot help but feel the passion for the game and feel nostalgic for Saturday afternoon game day.
The Henson Park 'Hill' is one of the few surviving old style sports grounds. It truly is a wonderful day out for the whole family (best part is you can take the pooch too!).
On game days, the kids love running up and down the hill and around the oval with John Trad (club trainer and masseur) as he rides his penny farthing bike around the concourse whenever the Jets score a try.
John Trad on his bike - Image Courtesy of the ROAR website
Henson Park has been an important place for the community to gather and enjoy the sport for nearly a century. In this day and age of big stadium, expensive tickets, it is a reminder of how once rugby league was a grassroots community sport, a family and generational sport. Where prior to Super League, salary caps and TV broadcasting rights, clubs were a lifeblood of a suburb, you could only watch the game by attending on the day and players worked in full-time jobs as well as training and playing part-time.
Mostly though, for supporters, it's about enjoyable Saturday afternoons spent lying on a blanket on the grass with your favourite people. Kids keeping fit while learning how to work as part of a team and spectators soaking up the sun, connecting with neighbours and raising much-needed funds for the club or the community.
Whilst the game itself may have changed and the sport has moved forward, we are third generation Jets supporters and are really excited to induct a fourth generation, our son, to the cherished Saturday afternoons on the hill. Showing our little guy that sport isn't just about winning a premiership and multimillion dollar contracts but is also something that can bond and bring a community together.
If you've never been to a Jets game, you love good food and beer, be sure to catch this festival to keep the Saturday afternoon Jets tradition alive for future generations.
The festival is an all age event and will be held on Saturday 22 July 2017 between 12pm-6pm. Gates will open at midday.
Tickets are $17.85 (booking fee online) and can be purchased online.