By OSCAR PERRI
Co-founder and “chief beaniologist” Jo Nixon says the Alice Springs Beanie Festival, starting tonight, grows every year, and this time, in its 25th year, the target is to see 4800 beanies sold.
Unlike many other events, Jo says the festival organisers hope for cold, beanie friendly weather, and in that regard the forecast for this weekend is looking good.
The festival began in 1997 when Jo’s auntie was working in the Yuendumu community, and received a lot of interest from women in the community when she started working on some crocheting during a break, so she taught them how to do it.
“She came back to Alice Springs with this bag of about 100 beanies and said ‘what we’re gonna do with these Jo?’
“So we hired a room at Araluen and invited our friends along, my husband’s band played and we hung the beanies from the roof and everyone came along and bought a beanie.
“We thought we should do it again next year, it was the best party we’d ever had and from there it turned into the Beanie Festival as more and more people wanted to be a part of it.”
The festival has maintained a strong relationship with indigenous communities, receiving funding to go out to community art centres and run beanie making workshops, with the products displayed in the exhibition gallery during the festival.
“Some of those women will come to the festival for the weekend, and they teach tourists about how to make beanies and how they’ve learned how to make beanies.
“They sit with the tourists and talk to them about language and stories and culture and sit side by side, it’s a lovely cross cultural event.”
Beanies displayed during the Festival come from far and wide. Jo says they have had them sent in to be judged from as far away as Canada and Japan this year.