Maryborough Mary Poppins Festival

Every year I forget about the annual Mary Poppins Festival in Maryborough until I see the Nanny Races on the news, and then spend a month singing the songs, being disappointed that I forgot, and feeling nostalgic about the thousands of times my sister and I watched the movie as kids.

But this year a billboard on the way up to Hervey Bay reminded me every time I went to visit my parents and I spent a couple of weeks planning some Disneybounds for the weekend with my friends Ivy and Kim. I wasn’t sure it was the sort of event that you could dress up for, but like a true cosplayer, I decided I didn’t mind either way.

The program didn’t go up until about a week before we were due to leave, so it made planning our days and activities a bit difficult. The website was great, but they kept the 2016 program up until two weeks before the festival, which was extremely frustrating (it only said on one page the year which was confusing). But after emailing the event coordinators, we decided that it was most important to be there for Mary Poppins in the Park on Saturday 1 July and headed up on Friday.

Friday night was the Mary Poppins Street Party which promised a ‘photo wall’ and a suggestion to come dressed up that encouraged all three of us to dress up a little, and food (which I wrongly read as food trucks). We put on Mary Poppins Disneybounds (all three of us looked different which was cute) and headed into town… to be a bit disappointed. There were some awesome antique cars, a pop up bar which had a slightly different interpretation in a country town than it did for us, and a few local stores which had stayed open for the night. There wasn’t a whole lot worth seeing, and we couldn’t find anywhere to eat, so after a bit of walking around, and meeting ‘The Little Old Bird Woman’ and Bert the chalk artist, we headed back to Hervey Bay.

Saturday was the day I’d planned to wear my Mrs Banks Disneybound, the outfit that I’d spent the most time making pieces for. I was a little worried about how much I’d stand out being so dressed up, but because it was the main day of the festival, the worries were definitely unfounded. There were lots of people, young and old and in between dressed up in many different ways, but I was the only Mrs Banks in the crowd. Quite a few people recognised me, but many others asked if I’d won something (because of the sash) or thought I was a “generic” suffragette (which of course, I wasn’t given my sash colours were based on the movie, not the real suffragette colours).

The festival was a lot of fun. Maryborough is so beautiful with many of the original buildings still remaining which made it the perfect place to walk around and enjoy the scenery, even without the festivals. There was a lot more food than Friday night, a Poppins costume parade (which we entered, but had no chance of winning because Disney Bounding was a bit lost on the Historical Society), Nanny Races and Chimney Sweep relays. There was music and a steam train and so, so many friendly people to chat to.

There was also the very cool Mary Poppins crosswalks which are in Maryborough to stay.

On Sunday we went to the Brolga Theatre to hear some live music and sign me up for an open mic session. I had planned on singing a jazz version of ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ in my Disney Bound Mary outfit, but at the last minute, changed my mind and did a repeat performance of ‘When You’re Good to Mama‘. The outdoor stage on the bank of the Mary River was a beautiful setting and the crowd was big and supportive —  a huge rush as a performer. Next year, given that very few artists were doing Poppins-related songs, I think I’m going to put in a performer application.

The cruisey Sunday afternoon of cocktails, hot chips, and music (and chats with our new Maryborough friends), was a great way to close out the weekend. But next year we’ll pack a picnic to take full advantage of the beautiful setting.

There is a lot that we thought could be done to make the festival bigger and attract lots and lots more tourists, and it’ll be interesting to see how it continues to grow. I also really would have liked the program to be a bit more thorough (i.e., how to muster for the parade, that picnics and chairs could be brought to the Brolga event), and that the information booth volunteers could actually answer questions (it was fun being sent in the wrong direction three times). But overall we had a lovely weekend away from the city, doing something a bit different. And we’re all already planning our outfits for next year (apparently, according to the Bird Lady, we’re not allowed to wear the same outfits two times running)!

 

Thanks to Say Cheesecake Photography and Ivy Dynamite for being amazing travel companions and making sure I had a lot of pictures from the weekend.

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