31 January 2023

Moruya to come alive as Mardi Gras and River Lights return in March

| Katrina Condie
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Crowd watching street parade

The 2022 Moruya Mardi Gras went off with a bang. Photo: Marie Traynor.

The call has gone out to community groups, schools, sporting clubs and local businesses to get colourful, get creative and take part in this year’s Moruya Mardi Gras and River Lights event.

A huge street parade through the centre of town will be the highlight of the annual festival to be held on Saturday, 11 March.

Festival committee member Candace Wirth said everyone was welcome to build a float or take to the streets on foot for the inclusive procession.

“The more the merrier,” she said.

“Last year we had businesses, dance groups, musicians and even a person wearing a top hat, riding a unicycle with a dog – which was a surprise – and the crowd loved him.”

Candace said the committee was trying to be inclusive of the whole community, including disability, LGBTQIA+ and Indigenous groups.

“You don’t have to do anything fancy. The things people love the most are people walking down the street, having fun with quirky costumes on,” she added.

READ ALSO Bega’s Felicity Dowd wins major songwriting award at Tamworth Music Festival

This year’s theme is Yesterday’s Heroes, with a focus on local characters who have helped shape the town.

“We’re recognising those people in the past that have helped our community become what it is today,” Candace said.

“The parade will be a nod to those people that raised funds to build the Moruya Swimming Pool. That’s why the original Mardi Gras started in the ’60s.

“It was such a massive effort. There was no such thing as applying for funding, the community did it or it just didn’t happen.

“We wouldn’t have a Moruya pool today without the Mardi Gras.”

Following a huge turnout of about 4000 spectators for the 2022 event, this year’s parade is expected to be bigger and better than ever.

“Last year we couldn’t believe it. We had been in lockdown for a year, some of us had lost homes in the bushfires, then rain, then COVID, and people were ready to get out and have some fun,” Candace said.

Visitors are expected to flock into town with the event being held over the Canberra long weekend.

As well as the street parade, there will be markets and food vendors in Riverside Park all day, with live music kicking off at 2 pm.

The festivities will continue into the afternoon before culminating with the spectacular River Lights float parade down the river at sunset, and fireworks around 9 o’clock.

“We’re really hoping to have more river floats this year, but it will depend on the community,” Candace said.

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The committee has arranged a fantastic line-up of music, including local indie band Spindrift Saga, Tamworth Country Music Festival New Songwriter of the Year Felicity Dowd, young rock band Flavuh and rockabilly trio Secret Agents.

The Casey Greene jazz duo, local Indigenous band Ron Callo Band and singer-songwriter Jacob Poyner will also hit the festival stage.

A musical extravaganza by Mark Easton will turn heads when he combines guitar, harmonica, drums, jaw harp, morin khuur, dombra and Mongolian throat singing to create something different.

Committee member Tony Jaggers said Mark had been a Candy Harlot, a Kelpie and a Suicide Squad member before moving on to a successful career as a bluesman.

He has performed at the Great Southern Blues Fest and the Australian Blues Festival in Broadbeach, Queensland, and is a real crowd-pleaser.

To get involved in the event and find out what’s planned, check out the festival’s Facebook Page.

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