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Festival goes mad

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BAF committee members dressed and ready for the Mad Hatters Tea Party in Ballan this Sunday from 9am-4pm. (L-R) - Marion Hartzheim (Alice), Matthew Grindrod (Mad Hatter), Kevin Harper (March Hare) and Catharina Hartzheim (Queen of Hearts) Photo – Sabine Benthien – Nomadic Dreamtime Photography
BAF committee members dressed and ready for the Mad Hatters Tea Party in Ballan this Sunday from 9am-4pm. (L-R) - Marion Hartzheim (Alice), Matthew Grindrod (Mad Hatter), Kevin Harper (March Hare) and Catharina Hartzheim (Queen of Hearts) Photo – Sabine Benthien – Nomadic Dreamtime Photography

By Jessica Howard

Residents are invited to venture down the rabbit hole to the mad tea party in Ballan this Sunday.

The 43rd annual Ballan Autumn Festival will this year celebrate the theme Mad Hatters Tea Party, chosen by late Ballan resident Lorraine Keene.

The event will take over the Main Street of Ballan between 9am and 4pm, with entertainment highlights including the Queen of Hearts Cake Decorating Competition; Ballan and District CWA’s Mad Hatters Tea Party; Woodchop Competition and the ever-popular Red Cross ‘Love of Liberty’ quilt exhibition at Millrose Quilting and Gallery.

Adults will be entertained by a stage show featuring two of Australia’s most spectacular drag queens, Art Simone and Philmah Bocks, who will bring the characters from Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland to life with their own signature flair.

Meanwhile, kids can enjoy the RooKeppers Wildlife Works Show and a family fun field, filled with walk-on-water balls, bungee trampolines and tea-cups.

Old festival favourites will include more than 100 market stalls and food trucks; pet show; vintage cars and machinery exhibitions and of course the Ballan Famers Market Grande Street Parade.

Ballan Autumn Festival Association president, Kevin Harper said this year’s engagement from the community, evidenced on social media, was generating a momentum of its own, and not just in Ballan.

“Support and interest this year has come from as far-a-field as Beaconsfield,” he said.

“This being in the generous donation of an extensive collection of High Tea paraphernalia, collected over a number of years and now in the custody of the Autumn Festival”.

The all-day live music and entertainment program will kick off at 9am in the Ballan IGA carpark, with young and upcoming local artists Ruby Wragg and Le-Ann joining the Ballarat Rockers, Studio C Performing Arts Group and Ballarat’s Scottish Country Dance Group.

Association vice president and secretary, Matthew Grindrod said there was something about this year’s theme that makes you smile.

“It’s infectious,” he said.

“From the haybales decorated by the Ballan 1st Scout Group to the Here, There and Everywhere sign outside the post office – it’s enough to make you grin as wide as the Cheshire Cat”.

The Ballan Autumn Festival will be held this Sunday March 18, 9am-4pm.
For more information, visit www.ballanautumnfestival.org.