Port Fairy may be a small town, but this quirky coastal region is big on community – a quality that's more than evident when it comes to the annual Moyneyana Festival. Now heading into its 64th year, the celebrated event is set to stir up some summer fun once again with more than a month of family festivities, amusing events and free entertainment.
The NYE parade is one of the many highlights of the Moyneyana Festival.
Christmas Eve on the Village Green will see the festival really kick off, with free fun from 4:30pm, including diversions for the kids, free show bags, music from the Port Fairy Citizens' Band and a very special visit from Santa in the early evening.
A float celebrating Moyneyana's 60th year in 2007.
New Year's Eve is another huge day and night, with Bushwahzee providing a musical treat for children, followed by more bands later in the night. The famous street procession will be held at 8pm, with a parade of floats and be-costumed local characters embodying this year's 'Carnivale' theme, and when the clock strikes twelve, the New Year will begin with a bang with the Crack-a-Jack Fireworks Spectacular.
Moyneyana offers something for everyone in summer.
These three days are just the tip of the iceberg, however, as every day in between is jam-packed with free scheduled celebrations. These include kite flying sessions, the humorous Mike Jackson show for children, the Magic with String workshop, pony rides, a visit from the animals of the Cudgee Creek Wildlife Park, interactive African Drumming workshops, the Pacific Hydro 'Go Green on the Green' environmental seminar, Wild Action shows (as seen on ABC1 Sundays) with snakes, turtles, frogs and a baby salt-water crocodile, a celebration of Port Fairy's Celtic heritage with Irish dancers and music for Celtic Day, the Odd Sock Circus, the Kids Carnivale, the traditional Blessing of the Fleet, the 3YB Moyneyana Musicfest, Jazz on the Green, Laughter Yoga, Card Making Classes, and self-guided art and history tours.
Jackie Herrmann of the Moyneyana Festival Committee welcomes a rather remarkable guest.
Other highlights include the Craft Markets, the Farmer's Market, various historic tours and walks, Port Fairy Lighthouse tours, The Stockman's Challenge, The Sheepdog Trials, the CHALK & CHEESE summer art exhibition, silk painting classes, quarry fossicking, and a whole host of events and activities involving dancing, boating, surfing, scuba diving, running, bowling, cycling, gliding and motoring.
Visitors can have fun browsing the many market stalls.
Visitors will also be able to watch the Whale Boat Launching and the sailing of the Classic Wooden Boat prior to the Surf Life Saving Club's Annual Duck Derby on New Year's Day. The Duck Derby involves a corporate race with proper decoy ducks on the Moyne River, followed by the open event (1000 entry tickets, cost of $5 each) commentated by local businessman Gary Lockett, which sees a sea of rubber duckies racing – with a little bit of help from the Surf Club's Rubber Duckie Boat in the event of a contrary tide.
For a town of Port Fairy's size to put on an event of Moyneyana's duration and magnitude, a huge amount of work is required in planning and preparation throughout the year. Festival Committee Promotion Secretary, Henry Toller-Bond, spoke to WeekendNotes about the commitment and dedication of the community. "It really is a festival 'for the people, by the people'," he said, adding that the sponsorship of local and surrounding businesses, and particularly the support of main sponsor, 3YB/Coast FM radio, helps to keep most of the celebrations free of charge. "Port Fairy is a very community-minded place, and the local businesses are very supportive."
Look out for some funny characters around the town.
This advocacy is a good reflection of the fun and friendly character of the town in general. In fact, Port Fairy's very distinctive, lively personality is as much a drawcard to tourists as its beautiful coastline, intriguing heritage and unique boutiques and eateries, and is a key driver behind the success of the town's festivals. "We decorate the town, it's all done by volunteers and help from the Port Fairy Folk Festival Construction Crew – we all help each other," said Mr Toller-Bond. "There's just so much for visitors to experience. There's something for everyone."
Every visitor will find something that floats their boat at Moyneyana.
Check out the Moyneyana Programme for further details of all the festival's many entertainments. Visitors can also browse the programme for accommodation venues, such as the Gardens Caravan Park, a budget family option with additional free summer activities planned.