The Canterbury Carols have been a hallmark of the Eaglehawk Dahlia and Arts Festival since 1979.

What goes on behind the scenes to organise this wondrous event?

The Canterbury Carols have been a hallmark of the Eaglehawk Dahlia and Arts Festival since 1979. The festival has between 24 and 26 events in its calendar. David Richards and his wife Judy have been helping organise the festival for around 18 years, always looking for ways to improve on the experience the following year.

ESC students Sophie and Maddie caught up with David for a chat about what is involved in organising this event.

“To be honest, we start organising the next festival the day after the current one finishes!”

There is a long list, usually four to five pages, of what needs to be done and David needs to work his way through the list to ensure that everything is done correctly and in the right order. There are only two official committee meetings for the Carols in August and October, as most of the communication is via email.

A lot of paperwork has to be done to ensure the festival is safe and well managed. Risk management includes a 20 page document for the council and fire permits are often required for the BBQ if it is going to be a total fire ban day. The park needs to be booked – as well as additional waste management for the night and ensuring the sprinklers aren’t going to come on and soak everyone!

We have to work closely with the Eaglehawk police because they’re our security people on the night. Local residents need to be told what’s
happening on the day and the weather is always a consideration. Last year we got washed out. It broke my heart to cancel it, but that’s history now. This year was actually a rerun of last year’s program. We now have a wet weather plan to transfer the evening to the new St Liborius hall if it starts to rain.

The media aspect is a big part of organising the event. The carols are advertised using social media to keep costs down, with Facebook, school and church newsletters, flyers and word of mouth replacing traditional newspaper advertisements.

The Dahlia and Arts festival is about not overcharging for anything – it either has to be free or as cheap as possible so that everybody in our
community can participate.

The scouts sell soft drinks and the Lion’s Club have their Christmas cakes for sale, but they are the only things for sale. The sausage sizzle is all free and each child gets around 10 glow sticks for the night, as well as all of the lollies! There are a number of major sponsors who help make this happen,

“If everyone does their part, it all comes together on the night”.

Sponsors include Eaglehawk Y Service Club, UFS Dispensary, City of Greater Bendigo and Workspace Australia.

“If everyone does their part, it all comes together on the night”.

On the day, we need to organise for the seats to be brought down from the town hall for the band to sit on in the sound shell. All of the lights and decorations need to be brought out of storage and the Rotary Club spend the afternoon decorating. Sound equipment needs to be set up and checked to ensure that it’s all working correctly. A safety officer needs to inspect and approve the site and we need to set up a space for our first aid provider as well.

Every year, we have guest artists, the citizen’s band and guest choirs.
Of course, Santa comes every year and we need to make sure he is looked after! By the time you read this, the 2019 Canterbury Carols will have come, gone and been a huge success (and David will already be thinking about what he can incorporate into the 2020 program!).


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