Japan returns as Guest Nation for 2019 Cowra Festival

The main street banners are flying, schools are preparing their window displays and the final touches are being made to a jam-packed program of activities for this year’s Cowra Festival of International Understanding, to be held from March 15-17, with guest nation Japan.

“Celebrated annually since 1965, our Festival has a strong history and a significant role in building a sense of pride and identity in the Cowra Community, and I would encourage involvement this year” said Mayor of Cowra, Cr Bill West.

“Because of our unique historical links, Japan was invited to be the first official guest nation for the Festival in 1966. Fifty three years later, we are honoured to welcome Japan back as our guest nation. The Festival provides an opportunity to strengthen our relationship and for a greater understanding and appreciation of each other’s history, culture and character,” Cr West said.

The Festival program for 2019 will provide plenty of opportunities to experience and enjoy the traditions and culture of Japan.

This year has seen the launch of the inaugural Cowra Festival Karaoke Competition, with some awesome prizes on offer, including a return flight to Japan in the Adult Best Vocal Performance and Adult Best Entertaining Performance categories. The third and final heat of the competition is on this Saturday 9 March, from 3 to 6pm at the Cowra Services Club and with categories for all ages, everyone is welcome!

Other activities leading up to the Festival weekend include Taiko Drumming workshops, Kabuki performances, a Haiku competition and the ‘War and Peace in the Pacific 75’ exhibition in Council’s foyer.

The Festival opening dinner on Friday 15 March at the Cowra Services Club will feature traditional Japanese cultural performances, with tickets for the evening available to purchase from Council’s customer service, or Council’s website. The annual Festival Parade and Carnival at Bryant Park on Saturday 16 March will also be bursting with fun and entertainment.

Carnival highlights include traditional Japanese demonstrations in Taiko drumming, calligraphy, origami and metalsmithing, tea ceremonies, and appearances by the Sydney Kimono Club and the Sydney Sakura Choir.

There will be loads of local talent to entertain at the Carnival also, including performances by the Cowra Town Band, Cowra Vocal Ensemble, Cowra Ballet School, wrestling demonstrations from Central West IWC and martial arts from Kumiai Ryu, Cowra.

Lots of delicious food will be available; you can take part in the Rotary Duck Race on the river, enjoy some carnival rides and finish off the evening watching the fireworks.

Sunday 17 March will see the Festival conclude with martial arts demonstrations at the Cowra Japanese Gardens and a Japanese Film Festival at the Cowra Civic Centre.

“I would like to make special thanks to our Festival sponsors; an event of this nature could not be presented without the tremendous support of the Australia-Japanese business community. Thank you also to the Cowra schools, sporting clubs and community organisations that continue to get behind the Festival each year. We look forward to sharing this wonderful community event with you,” Cr West concluded.

See the full Cowra Festival program at www.cowracouncil.com.au.