In February 2000, about 600 people gathered from Adelaide, Melbourne and regional South Australia and Victoria for the first Frances Folk Weekend.
There were young folkies, old folkies, dyed-in-the-wool folkies, new folkies, and people who had never heard of folkies or folk music/culture. If you speak to anyone who was there - they will tell you it was the best thing they had been to in ages!
One of the most noticeable features of the weekend was the friendly, welcoming attitude of the local people and the happy community feeling and spirit. They did everything possible to make the Gathering a success, opening up their town's facilities, closing off the main street and erecting a marquee, stage, tables and chairs, drinks stalls, etc. They cooked breakfast for the campers, mowed grass down, manned stalls and joined in the fun.
Some of the many highlights were: -
The "Musicians Mixed Grill" on the Sunday, where people's names were drawn from a hot to create groups of four (or more) who performed a musical skit on stage. Sort of a Chorus Cup with a twist. There were some hilarious acts from the combinations formed!
The Saturday evening dance in the local hall, where the local schoolchildren provided entertainment during the break with their own dance routine. Two toddlers went missing briefly the next morning and were found trying to get back into the hall to do some more dancing - they seem to start dating at an early age in Frances!
The many sessions of all kinds. There was something for everyone, pa rowdy singing session, anglo/celtic music in a tune session, and a quiet corner (or a room full of people) for singing, reciting, playing or listening to something a bit more sedate.
The blackboard concert on Saturday was a hit, starting around midday and running into the early evening with some very entertaining and polished performances!
Since this first magic Gathering, Frances has happened every year, and the programme has expanded to include music competitions and a special youth award. In 2014, we celebrated our fifteenth birthday and we look forward to another fifteen years of music, dance, art and fun!