The Easter Fair - carnivals in the street and in Rosalind Park including free activities for kids - and the Easter Procession were just a few of the delights offered by Bendigo at its Easter Festival over the long weekend which was made perfect by the most beautiful sunny weather one could imagine.
The Easter Fair was set up in two locations this year: one in the streets of the CBD, and the other (with rides and activities for younger kids) in and around Rosalind Park. Overall it was a raging success.
Parents with kids at the Rosalind Park carnival were overjoyed to discover that all the rides - bouncy castles, spinning teacups etc. - cost only $2.50 each, which was half the price of last year's carnival. (Wow! Reducing the cost of on carnival rides? That's a first!) The continual free activities in the park included kids' painting sessions, a baby animal farm, science experiments, entertaining music and performances. Food stalls were varied and multicultural with a good mix of junk and healthy foods. The hundreds of bats who live in Rosalind Park - woken by the carnival music and crowd - were wide awake, flapping and chirruping noisily. These bats are highly unpopular with many local people but were a thing of wonder and amazement to the thousands of tourists who were in Bendigo for the Festival who photographed them as they squabbled in the treetops and soared through the blue sky.
I didn't go to the street-stalls and carnival rides set up next to the CBD but drove past that blocked-off area. The roads, paths and circling, sailing rides were packed with people and roaring with engines, screams and a thousand voices talking and laughing. I don't have any teenage kids but someone told me the carnival rides in that street-fair section were the usual carnival price - $7 to $10 a ticket - and "that's where the teenagers go".
Bendigo's traditional owners, the Dja Dja Warrung, led the Easter Parade and handed out Aboriginal flags which were waved around by kids of all ethnic descriptions throughout the day. (I've still got one in my car; I'll be waving it around next Australia Day.) For more information about Dja Dja Warrung see: Dja Dja Warrung Clans
What followed brought back memories of all the Easter Parades I've been to throughout the years.
I was born in Bendigo, and watched and cheered 'The Procession' (which our family has always called the Parade) every Easter during the 21 years I lived there. Going back to Bendigo for Easter this year and sitting at the front with the little kids at the parade, I remember being a child and clapping as our brother marched by playing the trumpet in his school brass band; and as our sister, Bendigo's 'Popular Girl', went by in a truck; and as the magnificent Sun Loong passed, trying to guess which of the hundreds of dragon's legs were another brother's; and screaming as firecrackers deafened our ears and lion dragons reared up above us. I love the mounting excitement as the long snaking dragons start to weave through the procession and the symbols and drums beat, and the lion dancers shake their manes and flutter their eyelashes, leaping above the crowd; and then Sun Loong himself takes your breath away and you know the procession is nearly ended. And then it is, and our family chatters excitedly about how wonderful it all was, and we go to the fair.
For some nice pics of this year's Easter Parade, courtesy of the Bendigo Advertiser, see: Bendigo Addy Gala Parade Photos. For some great video footage of a previous parade including the amazing Sun Loong, see: Easter Parade (Youtube)
I wasn't able to get to everything over the Easter weekend. There was the awakening of the Dragon, of course; the Torchlight Procession (held Easter Saturday night); Bendigo Rotary Easter Art Show; Easter Egg Hunts held over the weekend with 85,000 chocolate eggs collected by thousands of kids; and the Easter book show, to name a few of the other events held over Easter.
This is the most recent video I could find of the Awakening of the Dragon which is incredibly noisy, so as to wake up Sun Loong. If you've never seen this amazing event, take a look at it: Awakening of the Dragon 2013
On behalf of all the people who attended the Festival who don't live in Bendigo...
Thank you, to the organisers of the Bendigo Festival and all its events.
Thank you, to the thousands of singers, dancers, sportspeople and the other hundreds of volunteers in the Bendigo community without which these festivals would not be possible.
Special thanks to the Chinese Association and the Chinese community for their generosity in sharing their wonderful culture with the whole Bendigo community and beyond. For more information see: Bendigo Chinese Association Inc
For other reviews of exhibitions and events by Sally-Anne Watson Kane, see the 'views and reviews' section of this blog: Views & Reviews
Sally-Anne Watson Kane, who comes from Bendigo, is the owner/operator of On Time Typing scribing and editing services. On Time Typing's main office is in Moe, Gippsland, Victoria with typists and scribes in Darwin, Bendigo and other locations.