Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Harbour Festival Once a Mardi Gras; Meg Warner Saw the Harbour Festival Transform into a Historical Icon of Gladstone

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Harbour Festival Once a Mardi Gras; Meg Warner Saw the Harbour Festival Transform into a Historical Icon of Gladstone

Article excerpt

Byline: Meg Warner

WELL the story goes the Harbour Festival started 54 years ago by a small group of like-minded Gladstone folk to bring the town together and celebrate the end of the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race.

Way back then we called it the Mardi Gras and it was held down in Central Park and the stage was on the back of a truck parked across the Goondoon and Tank Street intersection.

The whole town was there.

Over the years it just continued to grow and was eventually moved down to the waterfront and had a real carnival atmosphere.

As our city grew things had to change and the Gladstone Ports Corp had reclaimed land across Auckland Creek and built our beautiful Marina Parkland and purpose-built stage for the Gladstone Community to use, so we were moved over the creek.

My mate Pauline and I became volunteers on the committee in 1989 and there is one thing that I need to make clear to everyone, Gladstone Festivals and Events is not and never was owned or run by Council or any other government body or business - 54 years on and we are still a committee of volunteers with only two paid staff.

Over the past years everything has grown and changed.

We have seen lots of events come and go depending on our community's likes and dislikes.

The committee has raised money throughout the years with different one-night events like Mock Weddings, Cabarets etc.

We had the Festival Fundraising Queens who worked all year running raffles, harbour cruises, cent sales etc to raise some pretty amazing amounts over the years (of which 27% of their net profit - after the car and major prizes were paid for - went to a charity of their choice).

We had no vans or stage or infrastructure of any sort but come Harbour Festival time, our community rallied and just about everything like vans, tents, barbeques were on loan to us.

Sponsorships from the local industries and businesses paid for all the entertainment provided to the community free of charge.

It seemed the whole region was involved, shop fronts were decorated, street lights burning bright every night and "Tropical Wednesday" had all the workers wearing their Hawaiian shirts. …

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