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York Festival

The Act-Belong-Commit York Festival returns for 2018 with the program running from Saturday 8 September to Sunday 7 October.  That’s a whole month!

 Around The Sound spoke to Festival Director Jenny Garroun in the lead up to this massive community event.

Jenny Garroun founded the York Festival in 2014 and, in the few years between then and now, it’s become a month-long multi-arts celebration of community and life.  Looking over the Festival program, what first caught our eye was the croquet and cosplay event, so we couldn’t help but ask …

“I’d just come back from Japan and in Japan they like to dress up.  Cosplay is a big thing there and one of the favourite characters is Alice In Wonderland, where there’s croquet with pink flamingos.  So croquet and cosplay just seemed like a natural match.  What we want people to do is get dressed up in their favourite fancy costumes and come and play croquet”

“It’s an experiment, but if it goes well, I’d like to see it become a regular thing.”

That last comment seems to characterise the whole event, it’s one big, beautiful experiment in community engagement.  Anything goes, and everyone is invited.

When asked why the focus on the arts, Garroun lays out a vision for the future of the York Festival, the town of York and the Wheatbelt that is tinged with the struggle that many regional Australian towns and communities go through to maintain identity and even survive.

“You look at any community that’s reactivating itself through engagement in the arts and you start to see big changes in that community.  I fundamentally believe that the arts in all forms is paramount to the health of a community.  Whether that’s participating, joining a community choir, attending events or workshops and actively participating, I just think that the world is a much happier, healthier place when communities are engaged in that way.”

There’s a whole lot to experience at the York Festival, including a music program that includes local artists and an infusion of music and culture from across the globe.

“It sure is a diverse music program,” muses Garroun.  “It didn’t start out like that, but it’s just evolved as people got interested and got in contact, so it’s been a very organic growth in terms of the music program.  We started out with not really very much apart from the community concert and it’s just evolved from there.”

Organic.  There’s an element of the farm show in the York Festival program, the town is situated on the edge of WA’s Wheatbelt, after all, but it’s a growing, living entity.  The Festival may have been founded by one person, but it now lives and breathes through the involvement of a whole community.

“We would certainly hope that the Festival stimulates more local engagement in the creation of music,” Garroun says.  “The York Festival is very much about being in the Wheatbelt, being in York, so its program is designed around that and we’re definitely looking to encourage and foster community engagement in all of the arts.  And, of course, buskers.  We encourage buskers throughout, mainly on the weekends, so it’s an opportunity for buskers to come and play, they just need to get in touch with us.”

We’re definitely going, so see you there!  It is spring after all and, the rain has to stop some time.  Doesn’t it?


Read on for more information about the 2018 York Festival or visit

WA’s oldest inland town kicks off its annual community celebration of culture and arts on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 September with the Act-Belong-Commit 2018 The York Festival.  Thousands will visit the charming, historic Wheatbelt town (just one hour from Perth) as York comes alive with its ever popular Makers Market (including a Twilight Market) featuring WA’s most talented and creative artisans, along with music, art, food, performance, workshops, exhibitions and activities for all ages.  The month-long program culminates on Sunday 7 October with a free community concert in Peace Park featuring WA’s best bluegrass band, the City Slickers.

 York is an easy one hour drive east of the Perth CBD, off the Great Southern Highway.  Nestled on the banks of the Avon River in the West Australian Wheatbelt, the district offers unique insights into Western Australia’s rich and colourful past, both before and following European settlement in 1831.

York’s location and heritage inform much of the content of the York Festival program, of which highlights include: The Hay Bale Challenge sculpture competition; the Festival’s first interational artist exchange with Japanese Wara (rice straw) Artist AKIRA MORIYA, arriving in York to help create giant straw sculptures featuring endangered Australian fauna.  Other highlights The Running of the Lambs; Croquet + Cosplay, and a silent disco.

The York Festival activities take place throughout the town in many of the town’s historic landmark buildings which will host exhibitions and entertainment, including the York Town Hall, the York Mill, the Courthouse, Peace Park and the CWA.

Wander down Avon Terrace, enjoy the sounds of street buskers and soak up the charm and heritage of York. Buskers who are interested in playing in York during the festival should contact to register their interest.  Guided Walking Tours will take place each weekend of the festival; delving into the architecture and cultural history of York during the day, and a night-time tour for those more daring.

 Entertainment, art performance highlights include:

  • Moominpappa by the Sea presented by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre;
  • The Running of the Lambs. The hit of 2017, the costumed ninja warrior style obstacle course for kids is back but with more spice.  This year parents won’t be left out and the program will include the Ewe Beauties and the Rams Rampage:
  • Croquet + Cosplay, at the York Croquet Club on Friday 28th September;
  • Popup skate park;
  • Human Foosball;
  • Strings in Spring (chamber music) on Sunday 30th September;
  • Outcome Unknown (experimental music) on Sunday 30th September;
  • Silent Disco: three sessions for three age groups Under 12s, Under 17s and a late session for the 18+ on Saturday 29th September;
  • The Artitja Fine Art Spring Salon: showcasing Australian Aboriginal artists from regional and remote communities from across the North-west, central Australia and the Northern Territory, at Gallery152;
  • More to be announced!

Entry to most Festival events is FREE or by gold coin donation, except for certain ticketed events.  There is Wheelchair access available at all venues.  Parking is free within York.

For full program information visit: and sign up to the newsletter for updates.

Follow The York Festival on social media for the latest release program information:

Facebook        @yorkfestival

Instagram        @theyorkfestival

Twitter             @TheYorkFestival

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