For those who don’t know, the Gunnedah Eisteddfod is running for the 66th consecutive year.
This is quite a feat for a small country town that has seen its fair share of droughts, floods, highs and lows.
Most locals who grew up in the Gunnedah shire have memories of singing, dancing or reading poems through their schools or off their own bat. I have strong memories of practising songs for the choral section, trying to stand up straight and make sure my tie wasn’t crooked.
Almost every child who grows up in the Gunnedah shire participates in the eisteddfod at some stage in primary or secondary school. It’s practically a rite of passage.
It helps children to learn how to work together, commit words to memory, take on characters, express imagination, and practice in front of an audience.
Among those who performed in eisteddfods over the years are Gunnedah’s Katrina Burgoyne and Anthony Snape who have followed their dreams to Nashville where they sing for their supper.
In the last few years, Gunnedah Eisteddfod Society has introduced the Mature Aged Eisteddfod, which is held at Mackellar Care Services. The “Golden Oldies” event gives seniors an opportunity to come together and read poetry, sing items and dance to music.
It makes for a wonderful morning and I enjoy every minute. I make a point of attending every year to watch these bright sparks showcase their creativity, joy and humour. It’s wonderful to hear the residents pick up on a tune they know and love from the past and sing along as one. You can see the happiness it brings them to be together in one place.
But as with all things, the Gunnedah Eisteddfod doesn’t just happen. Schools, bands, musical groups and individuals practice songs, dances and musical pieces for months under the guiding hand of teachers and tutors while parents try to sort out costumes and whatever else may be needed for the stage.
This work is underpinned by the dedication of the eisteddfod society, with many members committing to the community event for years. Marg Amos is one of many who has stuck with the eisteddfod, year in and year out, and our thanks must go to her and the society for their perseverance.
It is my hope that the Gunnedah shire will continue to support its eisteddfod so it is still here for many years to come.