Gunnedah Eisteddfod Society's first online competition has wrapped up to high praise.
The traditional eisteddfod was unable to go ahead this year because of COVID-19 so the society decided to go online and called for video submissions.
Initially, it was just going to be open to the Gunnedah region but after some thought, the society decided to allow entries from competitors around Australia.
"There was interest shown and we thought, 'Why not?' It's a unique concept, innovative in this time of COVID-19," Mrs Amos said.
"It was giving musicians an opportunity they weren't otherwise going to get."
The competition had 70 sections and attracted 670 entries from almost every state. Contestants ranged from two years of age to 96, including Reggie Stewart and her great grandmother Marie Hickey.
The society's Marg Amos said about half the entries were from the Gunnedah district and it was "great to see a near 50/50 girl and boy participation level".
Major winners from the Gunnedah region included St Mary's College student Chelsea George who received the Maura Piggot Family Award for most promising performer 18 years and under; Lucy Furner who won the Kennedy Family Award for most promising local performer 12 years and under; Josh Green with the Blake Family Award for most promising local performer 18 years and under; Gavin Sams who received the Debbie Croft Encouragement Award for 12 years and under; and Lochlan Head who was awarded the Heath King Memorial Award.
"Gunnedah's done really well considering its been up against some excellent competitors," Mrs Amos said.
Highlights were the opportunity section for students with special needs; the family/household entertainment section; sibling section; Golden Oldies; the traditional Indigenous section; and the brass championships.
"Because of the nature of Covid and household families, we had the sibling section. We had 37 entries in the sibling duet and in family/household we had 28 entries from everywhere," Mrs Amos said.
Internationally acclaimed composer and conductor, Paul Jarman, returned to adjudicate the vocal and instrumental entries and said "we became a very special musical family during this difficult time".
Brass and percussion adjudicator Phill O'Neill was very impressed with the standard, awarding scores in the high 90s to some stand-out brass musicians.
Phill's takeaway message to competitors using the online platform was to "dress up, turn up to play [and] do it in one taping if possible, otherwise it will tire you mentally and physically".
Former Gunnedah girl Lucy Ravenwood (nee Amos) was heavily involved in the competition, working directly with the competitors to resolve any issues. She worked alongside another ex-local Rebecca Geraghty (nee Russell) who designed the society's website in time for the competition.
Mrs Amos is unsure whether the society will run an online competition again because "it's been a lot of work", but members are pleased with the outcome of their first foray.
- For full results, visit www.gunnedaheisteddfod.com.au