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HomeIssue 19Cold weather and beanies become a must

Cold weather and beanies become a must

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.

1 COMMENT

  1. Yesterday’s opening has been a sensational success. The vibe around Beanie Central has been one of immense fun with hundreds of people flocking to find some new head-wear, celebrating time spent with family and friends.
    We had the privilege of welcoming Her Honour The Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AM, Administrator of the Northern Territory to our Sponsors Morning Tea event held around 10am.
    Such a warm and engaging presence helped to kick start the 25th Festival in grand style at the Araluen Arts Centre. Sponsors were awarded certificates of thanks for their generous contributions to this year’s event.
    COVID restrictions meant that a maximum of 220 people were allowed into Witchetty’s at any one time with entries and exists being counted by volunteers relayed directly to each other at the entrance and exit doors.
    The evening featured the announcement of winners in various categories reflecting this year’s theme of Yarning Myths and Legends, the official opening of the exhibition in the Gallery followed by musical performances, entertainment, hot food and cool drinks for purchase and a party theme throughout the car park area.
    We’re looking forward to the strong vibe continuing over the weekend and Monday as the many beanies, tea cosies and other beanie merchandise finding their way to the homes and heads of many locals and visiting tourists.
    So … if you’re looking for an excellent event to enjoy this weekend, the 25th Beanie Festival has much to offer.
    Phil Walcott
    Beanie Festival Chair

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