Hundreds of people packed the Kalbarri foreshore on the weekend to experience the mysticism, intrigue and allure of the Orient for the fourth Kalbarri Zest Festival.
In the town’s biggest celebration of community, culture and history yet, festival goers turned out inmasses to experience Japanese and Chinese food, performances, art and other cultural offerings.
Zest Festival director Rebecca Millar said she had been overwhelmed by positive feedback about the event.
“The whole weekend was just amazing,” Ms Millar said.
“We had hundreds of people turn out to embark on a sensory journey to the east – whether they were learning the physical and heart-racing art of Japanese drumming, dining on gourmet fare in the food tent, listening to the haunting melody of a gourd flute or experiencing the ancient ritual of tea ceremonies.”
Ms Millar said the free Saturday evening Chamber of Rhetoric performance at Chinamen’s Beach was once again a festival highlight.
She said she was particularly proud of the way Kalbarri youthhad worked alongside high-calibre artists to produce a captivating display of a Shogun’s court for the performance.
“The kids were incredible. They were so professional, so hardworking, and so enthusiastic and - together with visiting artists Karen Hethey and Theaker von Ziarno- they pulled off the most mesmerising performance,” she said.
“I think one of the Zest Fest’s greatest strengths is the way it exposes Kalbarri kids to this calibre of art, and provides them with the opportunity to learn from artists of an international standing.
“The quality of performances, the costumes, the lighting, the music, the dance – it was breathtaking.”
Ms Millar said the Trade Winds Tasting Tent had again proven a highlight with sold-out lunches provided by leading south-west winery Voyager Estate.
She also marked the tea ceremonies as an event highlight. The ceremonies were conducted in a tea house builtby the Kalbarri Men’s Shed on Chinaman’s Beach and designed by architectural student Jared Malton, who grew up in Kalbarri.
“They conduct these ceremonies with such precision and grace, in a way that encourages you to slow down, to be mindful, and to appreciate what you are doing,” Ms Millar said.
“To do this on the beach in Kalbarri with the waves crashing behind you and the breeze wafting through was a very special experience.”
Festival goers were also treated the sight of a giant Buddha sand sculpture, as well as a whirlwind of performances and demonstrations from the Confucius Institute from the University of Western Australia who conducted kung-fu on the foreshore, calligraphy, Chinese dumpling cooking and more.
Festivities continued at Kalbarri District High School, which transformed its library into a virtual Aladdin’s Cave of Zest Fest-related works created by Kalbarri students.
The school also hosted the Taste and Desire: Power of the Beautiful exhibition in which people submitted objects of beauty for professional curation by regional artists Marina Baker and Marianne Penberthy alongside beautifully crafted interpretive panels.
The Kalbarri Zest Festival is a five-year celebration commemorating the 300th anniversary of the sinking of the Dutch East India merchant ship the Zuytdorp on the cliffs north of Kalbarri.
It is produced in partnership with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at UWA, which brings research history alive by delving into emotional heritage.
Ms Millar paid tribute to the Centre for its support for the event, as well as the volunteer committee who worked for months in the lead up to the festival.
She also thanked other major funding partners, including the Community Arts Network WA, Catalyst Community Arts Fund and the State Government through Tourism WA’s Regional Events Scheme, which is jointly funded by Royalties for Regions.
The Zest Festival is assisted by the Australian Government through the Ministry for the Arts’ Festivals Australia program.
The community youth Taiko drumming was a smoke, alcohol and drug free event proudly sponsored by Country Arts WA and by Healthway to promote the Drug Aware message.
For more information on the festival visit the website www.zestfestival.com.au.