In keeping with our traditional 3rd Sunday of November, this year’s festival, our fifth at Federation Square, was a unqualified success. Official attendance reached 35,000 and makes our festival the second largest ethnic festival at Federation Square and the largest in the southern hemisphere.
With the tirelessly enthusiastic efforts of the committee we managed to secure airtime on prime TV in Melbourne. On the Friday night before the festival the Chanel 10 weather report and the 7PM Project advised their viewers that there was “Pole dancing at Federation Square on the Sunday”. We are grateful to both for their generous support.
Again, at 10am the Hejnał signalled the start of the festival and the main stage burst into sound and colour with continuous performances until 5pm and traders spruiking their wares. On Yarra River Terrace the food stalls heated up their fry pans and grills, and a second stage also started with intimate performances by a small, but very popular, group of musicians and singers. It wasn’t too long until the whole of Federation Square was covered in sight, sound, colour and aroma that is uniquely Polish.
KIDSTOP, now a regular appearance at the festival, introduced young children down on River Terrace to Poland through art and craft. There was a continuous stream of children visiting to learn how to make wycinanki (traditional Polish cut-outs), to learn about the smok (dragon) under Wawel Castle in Kraków and to make wianki (beautiful traditional colorful wreaths that girls wear in their hair in the Kraków region).
The official ceremonies commenced at 1pm with the Hejnał and a brief introduction by Mr Christopher Łancucki AM, President PCCV. Mr Łancucki was followed by Mr Daniel Gromann, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Sydney and Mr Nick Kotsiras MLA, Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, representing the Leader of the Opposition. The official opening of the festival was by the Hon James Merlino, MLA, Representing the Premier, Minister for Sport, Recreation and Youth Affairs, Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs. Other VIPs also attended and were welcomed Mr Lancucki. They were Mr Jose Alvarez, State Director, Victoria, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Dr Sylwia Greda-Bogusz, Member, Australian Multicultural Advisory Council and Dr George Luk, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland in Melbourne and Mrs Denise Luk.
All festivities came to a close at 5pm with the playing of the Hejnał to mark the end of a very successful festival.
It is important to note that the festival is such a success through the efforts of not only the organising committee but also the 400 or so performers and community group volunteers who, like the committee members, provide their time totally free of charge. I thank them for their generous and selfless contribution towards bringing a taste of Poland to Melbourne in such a spectacular and entertaining way. I also take this opportunity to thank the committee members, and those whom they have seconded to assist them at the festival, for their tireless efforts throughout the year in ensuring the success of the festival. It is their skills and dedication that make it possible to put together such a colorful and entertaining day.
The festival is held as a community event with no intention to make a profit and with the aim of keeping costs to a minimum for stall holders. To that end, each year the committee spends an inordinate amount of time and energy in securing donations from a wide variety of sources. Notwithstanding these efforts, we were unable to secure enough sponsorship and donations to ensure a positive balance with the nett result being a loss of $771. The total cost in holding this year’s festival was $45,791 which included expenses such as $23,786 for the hire of Federation Square, $2,992 for the hire of additional marquees, $3,575 for the services of an electrician for the day to install and remove electrical supply to those stalls requiring electricity and $7,381 in printing costs, which included 10,000 copies of the 32 page guide to the festival and Polish history.
As with previous years, we are grateful for the generosity of our community supporters. I would like to give my sincere thanks and gratitude to the following for their financial support: The Blum Foundation ($4,000), the City of Melbourne ($5,000), the Victorian Multicultural Commission ($2,000), the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Sydney ($1,000). I would also like to thank 3ZZZ, SBS Polish Radio and Tygodnik Polski (Polish Weekly) who generously provided free air and press coverage in the months leading up to the festival.