Yarn Fest

Rachel Kendrigan & Mel Castleman

A new initiative of Arts Mildura, Yarn Fest presented 10 events over 10 days for the community of Mildura. A new concept for Arts Mildura, the focus was looking at what we already have to celebrate within our own community and drawing inspiration from the people around us.

For 10 days in October 2018, Yarn Fest was a true celebration of the powerful and personal stories of this community.

It was important for Arts Mildura to develop a Festival that was by the people, for the people. Part of this reasoning was to develop stronger relationships with other community groups and gain trust from the local community that we can deliver engaging, inspiring and relevant events.

74 individuals shared stories and 13 community groups/local businesses were involved. Yarn Fest was a low cost and easily manageable event due to the many partner groups involved. We kept the ticket prices low at $10 per person with 12 and under free. A majority of events were well attended and feedback has been very positive

Full Program included:


Arts Mildura invested in a visit from Sydney based artist Zohab Khan- educator, spoken word poet, motivational speaker, didgeridoo player, musician and hip-hop artist. 12 locals attended a 2-hour workshop with Zohab on writing and performing poetry.

FRINGE SLAM – Festival Launch in conjunction with launch of Mildura Fringe

6 workshop participants performed along with 5 local hip hop artists and 2 local dancers. Zohab Khan performed a powerful set of Slam Poetry along themes of social acceptance, multicultural issues in society and internal battles of self-love.

BREAKING BREAD with Slow Food Mildura

5 local growers and makers presented to a packed audience, telling stories of growing and making their produce, whilst sharing samples around the circle. The Slow Food movement focuses on good, clean, and fair food, and aims to encourage people to support local.

THE TALKING DEAD with Mildura Cemetery Trust and Cr Jake Modica

Cr Jake Modica researched and shared historical local stories at the Nichols Point Cemetery, and finished the tour at the grave of his grandparents, sharing a poem that he wrote for them. Tears and hugs were shared and the crowd dispersed to wander the cemetery and visit their own loved ones.

UNITED SONG with Kathy Dubois

Kathy Dubois, a local musician and singer, shared with us her experience in working with people with intellectual disabilities and mental health disorders. Luke from ArtRageUs studios, shared his experience of working with Kathy to write his own songs. The group then went through the process together, creating and performing a shared song.

TEN MINUTES OF MY LIFE with ArtRageUs studios

A live Q&A with a panel of 9 people with disabilities. Raw, honest and amusing, the panel also shared with us stories through theatre, dance and singing. The crowd mingled afterwards with many people saying they felt more comfortable to approach people in the community with disabilities.

DREAMTIME UNDER THE STARS with local Indigenous Elders

We gathered by the Murray River, under the stars, by the fire and sat on the dirt, shared stories. We were welcomed by a smoking ceremony, treated to Johnny Cakes cooked on the fire and heard poetry and singing by local indigenous elders and artists.

TALKING TABOO with Hot FM and Fosseys Gin

A late night session of G&T’s at our local Ginporium, community radio station HotFM presented a live broadcast of their show Talking Taboo. Gin master Steve Timmis shared historical stories of the Setts building, formally a men’s club, which launched Taboo and humorous conversations about gender equality.

HUMAN LIBRARY with Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council

7 members of our local community who come from a migrant or refugee background volunteered to share their stories at the Human Library. Set up like speed dating, audience members had 5 minutes to talk one on one with a library subject. SMECC EO Dean Whickham shared his experiences working with migrants and refugees and provided advice on ways to help make new arrivals feel welcome.

OFF THE RECORD with UpStart and Mayor Mark Eckel

Social enterprise co-working space UpStart hosted us for an evening of sharing vinyl records. Audience members brought along a record to share. Our Mayor Mark Eckel interviewed each person on their memories of the record before we all sat back and listened to a song together.