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Inaugural Gateway Merredin Draws Travellers from all over WA!

Published on Monday, 4 October 2021 at 1:45:00 PM

Hundreds of travellers from all around the state set their maps destination to Merredin for the inaugural Gateway Merredin Festival, held during the September long weekend from September 24 – 26. Campervans by the dozens rolled into town Friday morning ready for a weekend of festivities, while four-wheel drives lined the streets, their owners making a quick stop at the Central Wheatbelt Visitor Centre before heading to their accommodation.

The event kicked off on Friday with the community sausage sizzle which was generously cooked by Merredin’s Men Shed and served by local Volunteers. Many people took the opportunity to grab a feed and chat with mates down in the Bates Street Basecamp across from Cummins Theatre. An hour later, VIPs, sponsors, and special guests joined the celebrations for the official opening on the steps of the Tivoli. Triple M Breakfast announcer Terry Siva hosted the evening, with Shire President Julie Flockart opening the formalities and Hon. Darren West MLC speaking on behalf of the Premier and State Government. Guests were then Welcomed to Country by Mick Hayden, accompanied with a didgeridoo performance by Michael Hayden.

Later that evening, the sensational illumination art was premiered on the TJ Middleton Building in front of a huge crowd! There were several loud ‘ooos’ and ‘wows’ echoing the illumination lounge, with people of all ages mesmerized by the moving pictures and creative storytelling created by illuminart. Straight after, more than 160 people ushered into the historical Cummins Theatre for a powerful performance by the Western Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO).

Festival goers were up bright and early on Saturday to hop on the Collgar Community Bus, ready for the Buy from the Bush Market and Kids Zone activities. Crowds rolled through the event zone continuously throughout the day, with others spreading themselves between the artist workshop, bus tours, helicopter flights, the Philippa Rogers talk, public art mural and art trail, and at the Military and Railway Museums.

At 2pm Swingin’ at the Savoy entertained afternoon crowds with their glamorous and entertaining rendition of music from the Roaring 20’s in front of the Cummins Theatre, before the Hutton and Northey Game Day tent was opened up for AFL fans to grab a seat in front of the big screen.

At 4pm food trucks served up a delicious array of foods at the Merredin Freightlines Street Eats, with burgers, fish and chips, different flavoured spuds, curries, and ice cream and slushies for dessert. After the excitement of the AFL Grand Final , Cummins Theatre opened its doors for a rock’n’roll  performance by The Australian AC/DC Experience. Attendees danced the night away to the classic hits including ‘TNT’,  ‘Thunderstruck’, ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top’, and ‘You Shook Me All Night Long.’

Sunday morning began with a Church service hosted by Merredin Churches Fraternal before a parade of army and vintage vehicles took place down the main street of Merredin. More than 20 vehicles joined the succession lead by the Merredin Police that eventually finished at the carpark across from Merredin Community Resource Centre (CRC). Here, the crowds were able to get up close and personal with the military vehicles (including a tank!), with kids taking the opportunity to jump in the vehicles and pose for photos. Across the road, the Merredin CRC hosted a morning tea, using the festival theme; Troops, Trains and Treasures, as inspiration behind the dishes. Attendees were able to make a hot cuppa, grab a plate of food, and relax on the grass by the roaring fire pits, before heading over to the Merredin Fine Arts Gallery to view the poster trail.

Events on Sunday continued with the Water Colour Workshop run by local artist Jessie Spring, a walking tour of the CBD with the Merredin Historical Society, and a war themed movie night at Cummins Theatre hosted by the Merredin Military Museum.

The Shire of Merredin would like to express their gratitude to those who attended the Gateway Merredin festival, as well as the staff, community groups, and volunteers who gave their time over the weekend to ensure a smooth and successful event. Thank you also to the festival funding bodies, Department of Local Government, Sports and Cultural Industries and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and Lotterywest, for their support of the inaugural regional festival, as well as our Principal Sponsors Hutton and Northey Sales, Merredin Freightlines, and Collgar Wind Farm.

To the major sponsors, Great Southern Fuel Suppliers, Merredin Energy, MDN Electrical Contractors, Liberty Rural, McKenzie Family Funerals and Monumental Works, Eastway, and Risen Energy, we thank you also for your support during the inaugural year.

For those who would like to give their feedback on the event, please head to the below website. 

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