Window to Banjo's world

MCDONALD’S may be known as an American fast food franchise, but for the last two weeks visitors to the Orange restaurant have been greeted with a display celebrating the quintessential Australian poet Banjo Paterson.

It was a display McDonald’s co-ordinator Robin Reyer said had many people intrigued, including a group of Chinese visitors.

The display also impressed the judges in the inaugural Banjo Paterson Festival shop window display competition, sponsored by the Central Western Daily.

Festival committee chairman and Orange Rotary president Len Banks, and CWD managing editor Tony Rhead, judged the eight entries, which were asked to reflect the poetic works of Andrew Barton Paterson who was born near Orange.

Mr Banks said the restaurant’s winning display had achieved what the committee set out to do.

“When people visited Orange during the festival, the committee really wanted it to look like there was something on,” he said.

While he had hoped for more support from Summer Street retailers Mr Banks said those who entered had got into the spirit of the competition.

“I was really pleased with the effort each entry had gone to,” he said.

In the end the judges’ decision came down to the McDonald’s display, which could be enjoyed from inside or outside the building, and Collins Booksellers’ Mulga Bill’s Bicycle display.

Mulga Bill, dressed in a costume reflecting period illustrations of the poem, is perched precariously on a penny farthing painstakingly created by local sculptor Jane Tyack-Howarth.

Mr Banks said Mulga Bill had the “wow factor” the committee was looking for, but was edged out by the McDonald’s window display, which was created by staff in the McCafe team, led by Cheryl Gold.

Margaret Schwebel of Collins Booksellers said their Mulga Bill had people in Summer Street pausing to look and even prompted children to stop outside the bookstore and start reciting “Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk ...”

Mr Rhead said every entry reflected considerable work and great ingenuity as props including wool bales, old saddles, stock whips and mannequins were found in a Banjo Paterson scavenger hunt.

“Chris Gryllis came across a very old set of wool bale scales, which he said could be destined for the museum. I was also very impressed with the detail in Buena Vista Opportunity Shop’s recreation of the swagman in Waltzing Matilda,” he said.

At the PCYC staff incorporated creating their window display into a school holiday activity that included research on the internet and a field trip to the Banjo Paterson memorial on Ophir Road.

McDonalds Orange has won a $2000 advertising package in the Central Western Daily. Mr Rhead said the CWD would be delighted to sponsor a similar competition for next year’s festival.

“As Len said, it would be tremendous if we could have scores of shops decorated for the Banjo Paterson Festival, something to rival the Elvis mania that grips Parkes every year,” he said.

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