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Booktown NZ

FEATHERSTON IS THE WAIRARAPA'S RISING STAR!

Featherston is definitely the Wairarapa's rising star - and Booktown the jewel in its crown. The 2nd annual Booktown event was held in Featherston this May and we went along to enjoy, literate, participate and totally immerse in this incredible cultural event - the ONLY one of its kind in NZ and part of an international organisation of Booktowns

Nestled at the base of the Rimutakas, (only an hours drive from Wellington) you'll find the town of Featherston - home of Booktown and first stop in the South Wairarapa's trio of towns. Here in this quaint place a cool but quiet revolution of art and culture is happening, with Booktown being the fruit of a community that is totally rocking with a growing artistic creative vibe we love.

FISH & CHIP NIGHT WITH SIR RICHARD TAYLOR - OSCAR WINNER!

Booktown officially kicked off with Fish & Chip Friday night - a sold out fabulous event where the community gets together for a good old kiwi fish & chips dinner with the added bonus of a guest speaker! Great meal, excellent company and music by the Bush Rangers set the scene for this cultural fest running through the entire weekend.

This year the inspiring Sir Richard Taylor of Weta workshop fame (who also lives part time in Featherston) was the speaker of the evening. He spoke about Weta Workshop, making movies, special effects, his career journey and values. Interesting to hear the average age of his employees is 25 years, Sir Richard says he never looks at CV's just talks to job applicants to discover what makes them tick! How cool is that! This guy is inspirational, awesome and most definitely personable, looking forward to hearing more from him for sure!

SIR RICHARD TAYLOR - AN INSPIRATIONAL SPEAKER AT FISH & CHIP NIGHT!

BOOKTOWN IS A VERITABLE FEST OF BOOK THEMED EVENTS!

Saturday morning - we start as we plan to go on - aiming to attend as many Booktown events as possible, the entire town was involved, book themed window displays, giant murals, art installations so beautifully crafted by this motivated community - the Booktown buzz brings a feel good factor which is priceless, you can't buy this type of atmosphere. Featherston library being the official "Booktown Central" hub and the towns halls, churches and schools bursting with literary themed events we sauntered between the venues soaking it all up. Book readings, mini events, coffee & cake, book fairs, book binding, paper craft,workshops, book characters parade....a multitude of enticing options were on offer.

We clutched our Booktown programmes in hand and headed off to the Anzac hall just in time to witness Playshop, a Wellington based theatre group who had a group of children captivated and participating in a literary themed story. The children were being kitchen utensils - watching the actors pour coffee from one of the children masquerading as a coffee plunger was a delight!

PLAYSHOP ACTORS PERFORMING IN THE KIWI HALL

JARED GULIAN SPEAKING AT THE KIWI HALL

Then we wandered through to listen to Martinborough's Jared Gulian author of "Moon over Martinborough" speak about "blogging as a literary art form" - this was interesting and inspiring, as Jared took us on literary journey through time we realised that from the beginning of time, whatever the media, humankind has endeavoured to communicate by telling stories, blogging is no different, simply a new media and indeed can be classed as literature! Jared is an engaging speaker - have you read his book yet? (If not you need to soon!) We love his catch phrase "It all started with the chickens!" - so now you need to read the book to find out about the chickens don't you!

NZ STRING QUARTET - SCARY MUSIC!!

Lyrics by Joy Cowley, music by Gareth Farr - Scary Music was a festival highlight for us - a riveting performance by the super talented String Quartet, the hall was packed to the rafters with children of all ages and we were on the edge of our seats. Apart from being amazingly talented, this team engaged the audience at every stage of the performance, what a treat to see the children's faces light up as they sat spellbound captured by the "scary story", learning how musical instruments can "talk" and being given a superb lesson in the culture of live classical music. We could have gone to each and every session (there were three!) - definitely hoping the quartet will be back again for Booktown 2017!

MAKING ZINES WITH MURTLE CHICKPEA!

After the exhilaration of Scary Music, we wandered over to the Featherston school, peeked into the hall, stepped through a forest of paper chains and into the magical workshop on "Zines" (pronounced Zeenes) with the fabulous and multi talented Murtle Chickpea! It was somewhat like stepping through the looking glass and into wonderland....we were captivated from the word go. Meeting Murtle and making our first ever Zines was another highlight of Booktown, Zines are an AMAZING form of creative expression and Murtle is passionate about teaching this skill to anyone and everyone who arrives. We soon joined in and sat at the table surrounded by every collage material you could imagine and set about making our Zines.

Your Zine can be whatever shape, colour, size or theme you desire - poetic or political, crazy or serious - read Zines, make Zines, talk about Zines (there's a huge table of Murtle's Zine library to peruse through)....we could have stayed all day, we almost did, then returned the next day - it was like being encapsulated in a creative bubble.....why leave when all that currently exists in the world are Zines? Murtle and her friend Wolfie were also the greatest company and as we created our Zines we chatted about art, reading, creativity and life in general......good things (and zines) take time, and it was time well spent.

CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP WITH JOY COWLEY

Start your story with a bold statement, either action or dialogue will entice the reader to engage and read more! That was the advice of Joy Cowley - renowned and accomplished author - at the creative writing workshop for adults. This afternoon workshop was a valuable lesson in literary construction and plot development for a room packed full of enthusiastic authors. As heavy rain beat down on the tin roof we were mesmerised as Joy took us through the process of creating a story.

We couldn't help but feel privileged to be here, sitting in the Featherston senior citizens hall in the presence of one of New Zealand's most famous authors. Joys advice and tips included a strong focus on planning "resist the urge to just write - plan it!" she emphasises", along with many more vaulable writing tips. All points were taken on board and we imagine every person who attended left feeling inspired to grow not just as authors but as people.

THE CUTEST LITTLE BOOK CHARACTERS YOU'VE EVER SEEN!

Children love fairy tales and Booktown acknowledged this with a fantastic book character parade on Sunday afternoon. From Snow White, Thomas the Tank Engine, Little Red Riding Hood right down to a cute little piglet - the costumes and parade a pleasure to witness. Walking from the Anzac Hall along the streets, waving at passers by like celebrities with heads held high and confidence growing the children experienced the joy of taking fairy tales into real life. Parents, grandparents and friends joined in along with Featherston librarian Penny Griffin in her splendid coat of many colours.

There were fancy dress winners chosen but the children's obvious joy at participating in this event was the real prize of the day. For us the entire weekend was a magnificent triumph - not just of literary awareness but of a community that is caring and motivated. The planning, work and cost for booktown comes from a community with vision and heart to engage and embrace in their uniqueness and take the town forward in one of the most vibrant ideas we've seen.

We left this weekend of literary celebrations and settled in at home to revisit an old fairy tale - Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, feeling inspired in the afterglow of the weekend. Featherston Booktown is an annual event and we urge you to go along next time, and the time after that, and the time after that............just add it into your annual diary of must do's right now. We rate it as one of the best events the Wairarapa has ever seen.

BOOK SELLERS AT THE ANZAC HALL

FEATHERSTON - A MOTIVATED CARING COMMUNITY

Trish Higginson & Karina Hailwood - Creative Directors Martinborough Village
"Let us show you the magic of our town"

Copyright MV 2015
enquiries to karina@martinborough-village.co.nz
Images by Geoff Walker
Image of Sir Richard Taylor by Pete Monk Photographer