If you’re going
• What: Down Under Fest
• When: 8 to 10 p.m. May 25; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 26 and 27; 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. May 28
• Where: Polo Fields, 6050 Majors Road
• Cost: $8 per day or $22.50 for the weekend for adults; $6 per day or $15 for the weekend for children 5-14; free for children 4 and younger
• For more information, visit www.downunderfest.com.
A new festival planned for next weekend in Forsyth County will celebrate the food and features of Australia and New Zealand.
The first Down Under Fest, set for May 25-28 at the Polo Fields in west Forsyth, will include everything from boomerangs and kangaroos to didgeridoos and Australian sports.
Organizer Tina Keough said she was indirectly recruited by the Australian Consul General Duncan Cole, who lives in Atlanta, to develop the festival.
“They had an Australian fest for years in Nashville and then it moved to Fort Lauderdale and kind of fell apart,” she said.
Keough noted that she and husband Mick, a native Australian, and their children — Alex, 16, Kayleigh, 13, and Briana, 9 — often attended and made many friends through the events.
About two years ago, she said she and Mick were having dinner with some of those friends, along with Cole and his wife.
“The consul general looks at me and says, ‘Why don’t we have an Australian festival?’” she said. “I looked at him for a minute and then understood what he was really saying and thought, ‘Oh no, I just volunteered.’”
Keough said the festival will offer a glimpse into Australian and New Zealand life.
“It was a way for us to get as many Australians together in one place as we possibly could and at the same time educate everybody else about some of the unique aspects of Australia that they wouldn’t normally know,” she said.
“For example, most people don’t know that Australia has a huge dinosaur depository basically,” she said. “There’s a lot of other cultural and those sorts of things involved as well.”
She said guests will have a chance to learn about many of those aspects, as well as unique inventions coming from the nations. Those include octagon-shaped clothes lines, rainwater tanks and the ZORB, a giant inflatable ball in which a person can ride inside.
There will also be a number of indigenous dance performances and live music, as well as cattle dog demonstrations and a chance to visit with live kangaroos.
A number of Australian Rules Football, rugby and cricket teams will also be in attendance.
“We’ll have Australian Rules Football teams from as far as Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Nashville and Charlotte,” she said. “We’ll have a big tournament.”
Children will have the chance to fill their event “passport.”
“They’ll be able to go to the different static displays and get a stamp,” Keough said. “They can then bring their passport back to the souvenir stand for a prize. We thought that would be a good way for them to see everything and hopefully learn more.”
On May 28, in honor of Memorial Day, Keough said there will be a ceremony honoring service people from both nations and the U.S. at 8:30 a.m.
It will feature salutes to all three countries.
Keough said it’s difficult to predict how many people may attend the event since it is in its first year.
“It would be nice if we had 5,000 people there, but I guess we’ll just have to wait until it starts to know,” she said.
She hopes people will come out to learn more about the native land of her husband.
“It’s not all just Vegemite and kangaroos,” she said.