Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:22): Today, I rise to speak about the Mount Gambier Fringe Festival, an event that brings Mount Gambier alive with music, comedy, dance and performances. It is a festival that encourages our community to explore and embrace the regional arts scene and showcases our town to a wider audience. The festival's inaugural event was held in 2017, when around 8,000 people enjoyed Mount Gambier's first foray into the entertaining world of fringe.
This year, Mount Gambier residents came out in force, with over 12,500 people attending the numerous performances held during the event. The festival commenced with a vibrant street party in the Cave Gardens, with many residents attracted to the pop-up bars and food stalls offered by local eateries. There was an uplifting spirit in the city's streets. It was truly inspiring to see local businesses embrace and elevate the weeks-long event.
The colourful street party included family entertainment to amuse children, such as face painting and carnival rides, whilst parents could enjoy entertainment provided by local musicians such as Ben Hood and also participate in the Zorba dancing in the main street. Other events during the festival included Out of the Box, curated by Mark de Nys; the performance of Silent Bell in the Cave; Cirque Nocturne; B.L.U.E's Uke Fest; the After Hours Cabaret Club; dance performances, Trolleys and Losers, delivered by Lewis Major; as well as many more performances.
We have been very fortunate that Louise Adams, who was a finalist on X Factor, has embraced the Fringe Festival. As well as being involved in organising the event, Ms Adams also put on a show, entitled A Tribute to Unplugged, which took audiences on a musical journey through the iconic MTV Unplugged series.
As the audiences are taken through a journey of the regional arts world, they are also taken on a tour of some of Mount Gambier's iconic locations. The festival parades itself across the town, taking advantage of the early autumn weather and spreading the joy of being creative and being inclusive to some of our most celebrated settings. I look forward to seeing the festival grow to include the renowned natural landscapes that our town has to offer, perhaps a local play or production at the Umpherston Caves or a family fun day at the Valley Lakes.
The festival has a wonderful opportunity to prosper across our town. It is sensational to witness our town embrace the arts scene that we have to offer. We see it every day on the way to work and our children on their way to school, the cars driving ahead of us containing the South Australian numberplate reading 'South Australia—The Festival State'. It is a daily reminder of the identity and essence of our state. It is truly exciting to call such a celebratory and inclusive event home to Mount Gambier and South Australia.
Mount Gambier will once again embrace the fringe festival next year and I look forward to joining in the festivities of the Lift-Off party on 22 March 2019 and attending the entertaining events and shows that only a festival of this kind can have to offer. I also invite the Premier to come to Mount Gambier to show his support for the arts in regional South Australia and join in with the invigorating festivities.
In light of the tremendous success of the Mount Gambier Fringe Festival, I would like to congratulate all those involved, especially the Mount Gambier city council. The council's hardworking team has sourced funding for sponsorship commitments and has established a building model which enables the growth of the tourism and cultural economy in the region. The festival provides a forum for our local artists to engage with our local community and learn from visiting artists in a supported environment. I also take this opportunity to thank the state government for its previous funding commitment to the Mount Gambier Fringe Festival through Country Arts SA and SATC.
I also thank the venue operators and the local businesses which provide sponsorship and support. Finally, I thank the artists who ultimately enable the festival to be such a success. The Mount Gambier Fringe Festival is an attraction to our vibrant community and I commend all involved in a small or large way for pursuing the identity of our state, as represented by our numberplates, to the regional community of Mount Gambier.