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Willie Smith’s readies Mid-Winter Festival

July 3, 2017
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  • ‘Fire and Folklore’ take centre stage in the Huon Valley this Winter
  • Traditional owners celebrated at the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival

The three-day festival at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed has become renowned for its fiery welcome on the Friday night and this year will again leave attendees with a warm heart and soul.

Thousands of people will flock to the home of Willie Smiths on Friday, July 14 for the opening night of the event, which features the traditional burning of the 10-metre tall ‘Mid-Winter Man” as part of the welcome ceremony.

This must-see spectacle will take its inspiration from an ancient Hungarian folktale about welcoming back the sun from the depths of winter. The story, will be acted out on a stage with fire and contact dancers, stilt walkers and a giant sun, which will be used to light the effigy.

In addition, this year a uniquely Australian experience will also feature prominently at the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival this year as the event continues to evolve and push the boundaries of artistic expression.

‘Fire and Folklore’ take centre stage in the Huon Valley

The power of story is synonymous with the festival and this year organisers want to focus on the power of Reconciliation by also paying homage to the traditional owners of the land – the Australian Aboriginals and their stories dating back more than 40,000 years.

“Tasmania is home to one of the world’s oldest cultures, and we think the stories of the Palawa people can help us connect more deeply with the land,” explains Festival Director Sam Reid.

“We hope that by introducing, sharing and celebrating indigenous culture with a broader audience it will, in turn, engender greater respect for the culture and the people.”

Festival organisers have drawn on the knowledge, experience and skills of some of Australia’s most talented Aboriginal artists to create a program that will enthral and enlighten visitors.

Attendees at the festival on the Friday night will listen to a program of Indigenous music and storytelling, featuring singer-songwriter Frank Yamma and acclaimed Tasmanian Aboriginal “folktronica” artist Denni Proctor.

“Frank Yamma is without a doubt one of Australia’s most significant Indigenous songwriters with an ability to cross cultural and musical boundaries – a love song sung in Pitjantjatjara will make your heart sing in whatever language you speak,” Mr Reid said.

“When he sings, you listen and travel with him.”

The Dreamtime Storytelling will be Hosted by Nathan Maynard, whose debut play, The Season, premiered at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Sydney Festival in 2016 and was received with rave reviews.

The festival opens its doors to the public on Friday at 5pm, with a Welcome to Country at 5.30. The official Welcome Ceremony and Burning Man will be held at 7.30pm.

It continues over the weekend on July 15-16 with Wassailing, children’s storytelling, a bonfire and other activities including a focus on the regions food, wine – and of course, cider!

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