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Thoughtful fun at Mona Foma

Edition 180_New Year's Eve fireworks at the Taste of Tasmania

Australia’s weirdest summer festival, Mona Foma, lived up to its reputation for unexpected and challenging content during an amped-up January party season.

Visitation records were smashed in Hobart and more than 3,500 people flooded through MONA on a single day before Mofo even got started.

“Hobart is full. The challenge is where to put everybody,” tourism industry spokesperson, Luke Martin, said. “We can’t get any more people into the city for December and January. And the east coast is the same."

More than 11,500 people attended Mofo events, 35 per cent of them from outside Tasmania.

Curator Brian Ritchie told The Mercury: "The artists continue to be ecstatic about the festival, the response from the public is great and as organisers we’re happy. That’s a success as far as we’re concerned."

Shaun Prescott wrote on The Guardian website: "With stunning mountain vistas and not a Dagwood Dog in sight, there’s plenty of reason to smile at Mofo but the line-up seemed structured to pose the more sombre question: what comes next?

“It’s a dour subject for a music festival hosted in a rich man’s winery, but perhaps it’s what we deserve.”

Ritchie said: “We provide an experience at Mona Foma that you can’t get at any other music festival.

“We have full confidence in what we’re presenting to the public.

“And we think it’s entertaining; even if it might be considered challenging."

The Guardian went on: “It’s the most utopian large-scale festival in Australia: there’s no trash on the grass, everyone reuses their stainless steel cups, water is abundant and free and modern art replaces billboards …

“The festival attracts a crowd of young and old alike and I didn’t see anyone spew on themselves the entire weekend. You’re in Walsh’s backyard after all. You have to be nice.”

But the website argued that the prominence given this year to so-called primitive electronics, especially the analogue synthesiser, imbued the event with a sad awareness of unrealised dreams.

“You can’t help but recall a period when these instruments evoked a strange yet exciting vision of the future,” Prescott wrote.

“These sounds don’t evoke dreams of the future so much [now] as they do a nostalgia for having once dreamed of a utopia at all. In that light, they become numbing, melancholic.”

Mofo offered a lot more, of course, as the fun and social introspection were well mixed and concentrated more than in previous years on the MONA estate at Berriedale.

Elsewhere, the party season proceeded through weather eccentricities and isolated, but serious lapses in behaviour.

Hobart’s waterfront, Falls, Southbank or City Park, Mersey Bluff and Glenorchy were among the hot spots for New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The Taste attracted a capacity crowd of about 5,000 who were entertained by songstress Kate Ceberano.

Hundreds of children danced to disco music at The Taste’s Kids in the Park NYE disco.

Police said crowds were generally well-behaved, but their night had been made more difficult by having to check out numerous distress flares set off from boats on the River Derwent.

A waterfront gig lit up GASP’s Wilkinsons Point Pavilion in Glenorchy where Finnish artist Petri Saarikko and jazz pianist Chris Abrahams provided the entertainment.

Tasmania wasn’t forgotten as the wider world celebrated.

Images of wallabies, echidnas and a Tasmanian devil from Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary were beamed on to Sydney’s Harbour Bridge pylons to an audience of millions during that city’s New Year celebrations.

The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra rung in the New Year in Nanjing, China, with a joint performance with the local Jiangsu Arts Group Symphony Orchestra that involved 105 musicians.

About 10,000 music lovers travelled to Marion Bay to enjoy more than 70 live music acts as well as a bush tucker tour by tourism group NinaNina.

Despite the city being booked out, the Taste of Tasmania festival reported lower attendance rates than a year ago, partly because of adverse weather on the opening day and on New Year’s Day.

There were 69 stalls at the Taste, 35 of them selling alcohol and 36 selling food. Two sold both.

Final attendance numbers are predicted to be 207,000 over seven days — down from 253,185 in 2014–15.

Dissident aldermen said it was time for the council to consider establishing a professional board to run the Taste, or to put the event out to tender.

The 35th Cygnet Folk Festival featured 440 ethno-folk artists from around the world and trebled the southern town’s population of 1,500.

Ticket sales records were set and Cygnet pulsed to the beats of street musicians, bands, full-blown concerts and musical master classes.

Food trucks played an increased role in festivities in and around Hobart.

They are established as the centrepiece of Street Eats@Franko – a new Friday night market in Franklin Square – and owners have their own Food Truck Market in the newly named Red Square in Macquarie Point.

Fifteen truck and trailer kitchens complement the Hobart Brewing Company’s Red Shed activities, to the delight of many visitors, as well as locals.

The fun has continued this month with the Australian Wooden Boats Festival in Hobart, Festivale in Launceston and Party in the Paddock at Burns Creek.

Upcoming events include:

Footnote: Nine collector stamps for tourists were produced by Kaye Green, the Tiger Trail stamp maker, for the Australian Wooden Boats Festival. Ms Green launched the Japanese-style stamps last year. She started with 30 stamp blocks that tourists could find during a Tasmanian visit and the variations now exceed 150. Ms Green has received feedback from travelling parents thanking her for keeping their children entertained during long drives. Some visitors are building their itineraries based on a preference for places where stamp impressions can be acquired, Ms Green told The Mercury. A seafood cooking master class at the festival, featuring Brand Tasmania Ambassador, Tetsuya Wakuda, and Rodney Dunn from the Agrarian Kitchen, sold out.

Image courtesy of the Hobart City Council.

8 February 2017, Edition 180

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