Even more to celebrate at festival

It is only two more sleeps until the annual Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival kicks off on Thursday, a major event not to be missed with plenty to celebrate.

This year marks two special milestones for the event, as it is the 30th anniversary of the festival and the 150th year of Penola-born poet John Shaw Neilson’s life.

The festival is bound to be big with no shortage of action, with more than 50 events taking place at over 40 venues across the Penola and Coonawarra region from Thursday to Sunday.

The jam-packed program will have something for everyone with plenty for kids and adults alike, including performances, food and wine, opera, exhibitions, workshops, competitions, kids activities and music.

The festival is set to be a fantastic few days and some crowd favourites will return along with some new events, with people coming from near and far to showcase their talents and passions.

The festival is organised by a committed group of volunteers who put lots of time, effort and love into bringing the festival together each year.

The festivities will begin on Thursday evening with the official opening of the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival at Penola High School where various prize winners will be announced.

The winner of the prestigious 2022 John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize will be announced, who will receive $12,000 sponsored generously by The Balnaves Foundation.

The John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize is open to artists all over Australia and entrants must create a piece inspired by the poetry of Penola-born poet John Shaw Neilson.

Other prizes that will be announced include the Limestone Coast Local Art Prize of $1000 sponsored by Lois Hodge, the $1000 Design Prize sponsored by Hansen Print and the Catherine Martin Literary Prize.

Thursday night will not stop there as the Co-Opera are returning with their premiere performance of one act comic opera ‘Gianni Schicchi’ by Giacomo Puccini in Rymill hall.

Throughout the weekend, people can let their creative minds run wild with various workshops and admire the artistic work of others with the huge variety of exhibitions.

On Saturday night people can tune in to grass-roots music festival Shenanigans at the Coonawarra Community Hall.

Shenanigans is curated by local Simon Weston and a fantastic line-up will take to the stage, including Archer, The Cart Wheels and friends.

On Sunday, a literary brunch will take place at Coonawarra’s Ottelia restaurant where people can enjoy a great line-up of film creatives.

This will include producer Nick Batzias and director and screenwriter Justin Kurzel, who will explore their award-winning film ‘Nitram.’

They will be accompanied by friend and author Jock Serong, who will discuss his latest book ‘The Burning Island.’

There will be plenty happening down Petticoat Lane with live music, fine food and beverages and art.

Kids will be excited to head over to the family pARTy at Mary MacKillop Memorial School Oval for activities, face painting and fundraising stalls for local schools.

The day will be full of free entertainment including circus acts, magicians, music and a giant 30th birthday cake to top off the celebrations.

People who want to showcase their talents can sign up to be a busker in the streets and parks of Penola and those keen to hit the stage can join the open mic competition at the Royal Oak Hotel.

These events give just a taste of what is to come over the weekend and the full program can be viewed artsfestival.com.au/

For events that require tickets or bookings, people are encouraged to jump online and reserve these as they will sell and book out quickly.

Tickets can be booked via artsfestival.com.au/tickets/ and for all other events held by individual groups, contact the event holder directly via their details in the program.

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