By Kyra Gillespie
Community members from all walks of life gathered to celebrate the annual Upper Beaconsfield Village Festival over the weekend.
Founded following the devastating aftermath of the Ash Wednesday bush fires on the Upper Beaconsfield community, the Village Festival celebrates the community and is an annual tribute to the 12 firefighters who lost their lives on 16 February, 1983.
Held from 9am to 3pm on Sunday 17 February at the Upper Beaconsfield Community Centre, the event saw the footfall of around 4000 visitors.
“We had another really successful festival; the Tower Challenge Fun Run, held prior to the festival, was fantastic. We had 295 people run, including children and adults,” festival committee member Michelle Greenshields said.
“It is a hilly 6.5kms around the water tower in Upper Beaconsfield; some people did the ‘Tough Tower’ which is two laps.”
Those who attended on the day enjoyed a range of activities, including an art exhibition, rides, a petting zoo, reptiles, a train ride, teacup rides, jumping castles, climbing and skirmish – all at the cost of a $10 wristband.
“We had an art exhibition which feature local artist Leanne Hutchinson and had a huge variety of works on display. The CWA ladies were kept busy all day making scones and sandwiches and serving sliders that were generously donated by Jason’s Restaurant,” Ms Greenshields continued.
“The festival began after Ash Wednesday when the fires devastated the township on 16 February, 1983. It was originally held to celebrate the community after the fires and was named the Upper Beac Fair, which is now Village Festival as it includes local community groups, local businesses, schools and stall holders selling things like food, fashion and jewellery.”
Members from Pakenham Police also attended to keep an eye on the event and chat to locals about community safety.
“Today we were out and about at the Upper Beaconsfield Village Festival,” Pakenham police posted online.
“As part of our Community Safety Network campaign we were handing out Crime Prevention information giving the locals tips on what they can do to try and prevent burglary and thefts.
“One of the tips mentioned in the information we were handing out was – get to know your neighbours. It may be easier for them to recognise unusual behaviour at your residence if you are out which can assist in preventing thefts and burglaries.
“If you do see suspicious activity at your neighbour’s premises you can report it to your local police station or call Triple Zero (000) if you feel it is an emergency.”
A dedicated committee runs the event each year with the assistance of an annual grant from Cardinia Shire Council.
“Without the grant, we wouldn’t be able to hold the festival,” Ms Greenshields said.
“The whole community loves coming together to celebrate each year; dogs, kids, mums, dads and grandparents alike, all love the relaxed fun day.
“It is really important to continue bringing the community together to help support and encourage all generations.”