Ovens & Murray Advertiser
Town glitters for Golden Horshoes Festival
A CROWD estimated to be 15,000-strong streamed into Beechworth for the town›s annual Golden Horseshoes Festival during Easter.
The festival celebrates the town›s gold rush history and, as the story goes, Daniel Cameron – a candidate in the 1855 campaign to elect a parliamentarian for Ovens goldfield communities to Victoria’s Legislative Council – who argued for better conditions on the diggings and was paraded into Beechworth on a horse shod in solid gold.
Saturday’s shoeing of mare Stockman Gypsy by Corowa’s Craig Hancock commemorated Cameron’s turbulent and popular rally in Beechworth and the horseman then led the Horseshoes’ festival grand parade along Ford Street – although the number of parade viewers seemed much slimmer than usual.
Organising committee member Amanda Hausler said Beechworth had an amazing history to celebrate.
Among the numerous business, community and school floats in the sunny event was Beechworth’s Burke Museumand Historic Precinct parade-winning entry devised by precinct manager Cameron Auty and staff.
It was emblematic of the incredible story of 153 tons of gold officially recovered from Beechworth, Woolshed and Stanley after the rush of 1852, with gold-painted papier-mâchéballs each representing one ton of the precious metal.
Had it been real it would today be worth $8 billion – but still worth a punt by bushranger Harry Power, in the form of precinct guide Keith Warren, who attempted to steal one of the balls from the float during the parade.
Other entries included Beechworth Bakery’s mobile ‘bush bakery’, a swarm of Beechworth Honey two-legged bees, Old Cranks’ Clubshow and shine classic cars, a Border pipe band and two ‹water droplets› on stilts.
The Horseshoes crowd also had an opportunity to see on the street – for the first time in more than a decade – historic carriages from the National Trust Victoria collection usually housed in Billson’s Brewery in Last Street.
Burke Museum and its Friends’ group, Billson’s, National Trust and volunteers from the community worked together to bring about the exhibition of six of the rare vehicles outside Beechworth old courthouse and sub-treasury.
The aim next year is to display them drawn by horses.
The festival also included Beechworth Arts Council’s inaugural Golden Art Fair in which 16 artists from Beechworth, Yackandandah, Wooragee and Wangaratta took part, with an estimated 300 people viewing works and watching demonstrations of art practice.
Beechworth sculptor and installation artist Jo Voigt created from PET recyclable bottles a special, large sculpture for the fair called ‘Liquid gold’ – a commentary on the high intrinsic and environmental cost of bottled water.
Among other first-time events were a 40-stall farmers’ market in Town Hall Gardens and a Lego exhibition called ‘Bricks on the Border’.
Albury-based volunteers donated their time and Lego creations for the show which was a big hit with children.
Volunteer Matt Fankhauser said he loved putting smiles on young faces.
John Costello said Beechworth Rotary Club’s market in Queen Victoria Park had 110 stalls this year.
“It was a little down on last year’s number but had an excellent mix of products and activities,” he said.
The market generated about $3000 to be used to support the park’s Rotary Hall, which is available for community use, and a pontoon in Lake Sambell– a project on which the club is liaising with Indigo Shire Council.
Horseshoes’ committee chair Ian McVea said the festival was on a par with other years.
Ms Hausler said there had also been a great line-up of music on stage with local talent. “It’s great for younger people,” she said. She said community groups and individuals who supported Horse shoes “made” the festival.
Among them were Beechworth Correctional Centre prisoners.
Beechworth’s Heidi Freeman said the tourists and locals loved the heritage inspired theme.