Festival Places: Revitalising Rural Australia

Edited by: Chris Gibson, John Connell

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Channel View Publications
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Festivals have burgeoned in rural areas, revitalising old traditions and inventing new reasons to celebrate. How do festivals contribute to tourism, community and a rural sense of belonging? What are their cultural, environmental and economic dimensions? This book answers such questions - featuring contributions from leading geographers, historians, anthropologists, tourism scholars and cultural researchers. It draws on a range of case studies: from the rustic charm of agricultural shows and family circuses to the effervescent festival of Elvis Presley impersonators in Parkes; from wildflower collecting to the cosmopolitan beats of ChillOut, Australia's largest non-metropolitan gay and lesbian festival. Festivals as diverse as youth surfing carnivals, country music musters, Aboriginal gatherings in the remote Australian outback, Scottish highland gatherings and German Christmas celebrations are united in their emphasis on community, conviviality and fun.

Festival Places is a rich and diverse collection of studies of the function of the cultural festival in constructing place and community in rural Australia. While deeply grounded in its individual case studies, the mix of disciplines and methodologies demonstrate the value of continually seeking new ways to perform cultural research. This is both a fascinating and an extremely useful book.

Gibson and Connell's volume on festivals provides a wide angle perspective on what is going on 'out there'. Academics and students, community development practitioners, government policy-makers, are among those who will be interested in the insights, strategies, and festival outcomes that are discussed...while the volume focuses exclusively on Australia, it is a useful reference for identifying and understanding what is occurring in relation to festivals elsewhere in the world, notably in rural North America and Europe. The in-depth discussions entered into with the case studies provide rich snapshots of the challenges and opportunities that go hand-in-hand with rural community and regional economic development.

Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, 10:4, 341-343

Chris Gibson is Professor in Human Geography at the University of Wollongong. John Connell is Professor of Geography at the University of Sydney. For well over a decade they have been researching and writing about music, tourism and festivals in Australia and beyond. More recently they were part of a team undertaking Australia’s largest ever study of rural festivals, with 480 festivals participating in the research. Insights from that research project feature throughout this book.

John Connell is Professor of Geography and Head of the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney. His research interests span mobility, tourism, music and place identities. He has published widely on urbanisation, migration, and tourism. His books Sydney: Emergence of a World City (Oxford University Press, 2000) and Small Worlds, Global Lives: Islands and Migration (Pinter, 1999).



Section 1: Exploring rural festivals

Chapter 1: The extent and significance of rural festivals - Chris Gibson, John Connell, Gordon Waitt and Jim Walmsley

Chapter 2: Histories of agricultural shows and rural festivals in Australia - Kate Darian-Smith

Chapter 3: Rural festivals and processes of belonging - Michelle Duffy and Gordon Waitt

Section 2: Nuts and bolts: Making festivals happen

Chapter 4: Local leadership and rural renewal through festival fun: the case of SnowFest - Amanda Davies

Chapter 5: Economic benefits of rural festivals and questions of geographical scale: the Rusty Gromfest surf carnival - Patricia Tindall

Chapter 6: Greening rural festivals: ecology, sustainability, and human-nature relations - Chris Gibson and Colleen Wong

Section 3: Politics and place: Culture, nature and colonialism

Chapter 7: Performing culture as political strategy: the Garma Festival, Northeast Arnhem Land - Peter Phipps

Chapter 8: 'Our Spirit Rises from the Ashes': Mapoon festival and History's shadow - Lisa Slater

Chapter 9: Birthday parties and flower shows, musters and multiculturalism: festivals in post-war Gympie - Robert Edwards

Chapter 10: On display: Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show and the assembly of place - Robyn Mayes

Section 4: Reinventing rurality

Chapter 11: Elvis in the country: transforming place in rural Australia - John Connell and Chris Gibson

Chapter 12: Marketing a sustainable rural utopia: the evolution of a community festival - Matthew W. Rofe and Hilary P.M. Winchester

Chapter 13: ChillOut: a festival 'out' in the country - Gordon Waitt and Andrew Gorman-Murray

Section 5: Festival people

Chapter 14: Bring in your washing: family circuses, festivity and rural Australia - Andrea Lemon

Chapter 15: Culturing commitment: serious leisure and the folk festival experience - Robbie Begg

Chapter 16: Tartans, kilts and bagpipes: cultural identity and community creation at the Bundanoon is Brigadoon Scottish festival - Brad Ruting and Jen Li

Chapter 17: What is Wangaratta to jazz? The (re)creation of place, music and community at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival - Rebecca Anne Curtis

General, Research / Professional, Undergraduate
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