OUR SAY: Banjo theme brings winning formula

ELEVEN successful days of outdoor activities, poetry recitals, exhibitions and food and wine events draw to a close today on the last day of Orange’s Banjo Paterson Festival.

Coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the poet’s birth near Orange, the festival has been a much more cohesive event than Slow Summer, which it effectively replaces.

Though this year’s Banjo Paterson Festival will be longer at 11 days than either past Slow Summer festivals or what is planned for the Banjo festival next year, it is its cohesive theme that really sets it apart as a winning formula.

Orange has shown in the past that despite lacking a signature attraction or event, like Dubbo’s zoo or Bathurst’s iconic car race it can market itself in other ways.

Wine and food have emerged as a a year-round attraction with spin-offs such Wine Week and FOOD Week.

But it has been challenging trying to entice foodies here in large numbers outside of the two festival dates.

The surge in interest in all things Banjo within Orange and the determination to make more of the city’s albeit fleeting connection with Australia’s best-loved poet could give Orange a distinctive marketing edge.

When tourists are deciding on destinations in regional NSW Orange needs to be thought of as more than just a stop on the food and wine trail.

If the connection with Banjo Paterson, which Emmaville Cottage and the Banjo Paterson Writing Awards highlight, can be built upon there is the prospect of doing just that.

It matters not whether Paterson was born in Emmaville Cottage or in another dwelling nearby. 

What matters is that visitors and residents alike can visit the cottage and later the museum and get a good understanding of what rural life was like in the 1860s.

For the Banjo Paterson Festival to maintain its momentum and for Orange to become synonymous with the poet it is important that the next festival has fresh ideas, guests with the profile of Jack Thompson, and the whole hearted support of the community. 

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