New cultural festival announced for Forbes

Festival Director Stefo Nantsou (left), with the Mayor of Forbes, Councillor Phyllis Miller, the Festival convener Merrill Findlay, and Councillor Chris Roylances, at a community consultation in Forbes. Photo courtesy Forbes Advocate.By Dominic Geiger

Former Condobolin resident and author, Merrill Findlay, has announced a brand new cultural festival will be held in Forbes this September.
The Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival will incorporate visual arts, multiple styles of music, theatre and literature to offer something for “every age and interest group.”
Merrill, who is the festival’s convenor, said the legend of Kate Kelly, the sister of the infamous Ned Kelly, had helped provide the genesis for the festival.
“I wanted to create an opera about Kate Kelly, whose body was found in Forbes Lagoon, and I met Ross Carey, who was a piano teacher with the Mitchell Conservatorium,” she said.
“From that meeting we developed a really good collaboration for this song cycle about Kate Kelly… and that song cycle will now headline the festival.
“The Song Cycle consists of forty minutes of very accessible new classical music for soprano voice, violin, cello, clarinet, piano accordion, community choirs and clap stick.”
Merrill said although classical music would be featured in the festival, there would also be many other genres on show.
“There’ll be jazz, country, hip hop…we’ll have lots of buskers as well; any musicians in the region are able to perform,” she said.
“We even have a minister for busking, Robert Hofwell, who is President of the Forbes Country Music Club, and will be drawing on his experience when planning the busking venues and program for the festival.
Rather than a traditional organising committee, Merrill said a cabinet of twelve ‘ministers’ would be responsible for the running of the event.
“Each (minister) will be responsible for a portfolio of festival events and activities, ranging from stage performances, busking and lantern making, to exhibitions, markets and creative sports,” she said.
The cabinet will also include one of Condobolin’s very own, with Rural Mental Health Consultant, Di Gill taking on the role of Minister for Mental Health.
“Ms Gill will co-host a Beyond Blue Bowls Tournament with the Forbes Sports and Recreation Club on Sunday morning, 4 September, as part of the festival,” Merrill said.
The inaugural Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival will be held on September 3-4 in Forbes and will open the NSW State Landcare and Catchment Management Forum which will be held in Parkes the following week.
For more information, visit the festival’s website at

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