The Grand Opening of the 2013 StoryArts Festival was held at the Ipswich Community Gallery on a delightful Spring day. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Exhibition was on display, and children who had artworks on display came along to show their efforts to friends and family. The pride on the faces of the budding artists was a pleasure to witness.
Madame Butterfly was the MC and drew us all into a state ready to experience the joy of a storytelling session from storytelling legend Tanya Batt.
Tanya told a Cherokee story about a time when there were no stories. Tanya’s gift at telling stories in a theatrical manner was thoroughly enjoyed by the children who were completely captivated. The same can be said of the adult’s present, such is Tanya’s gift that she can tell stories that appeal to children of all ages.
Jenny Stubbs was thanked by Tanya and Madame Butterfly as someone who loves stories, libraries and children. Jenny was cheered in by the crowd to do the formal opening, saying to the kids “sorry kids, I have to do some boring things and talking”.
Jenny thanked the Indigenous Traditional Land Owners. She acknowledged Indigenous, and non-Indigenous Storytellers. She welcomed special guests including local councillor Andrew Antonelli, and authors and illustrators from near and far. Jenny talked about The Very Hungry Caterpillar Exhibition as “a project that values the creative output of children”. She also spoke of the IDTLN (Ipswich District Teacher Librarian Network) having commissioned the script for “The Tuckshop Kid.” On behalf of the IDTLN, Jenny thanked the sponsors, venues and Somerset Regional Council, as well as all the members of the IDTLN who raise a lot of money to fund the festival. We also found out that StoryArts is the largest free festival for children’s literature in Australia.
Madame Butterfly introduced the next stars of the show, author Mark Carthew and illustrator Mike Spoor.
Mark sang a song about what caterpillars eat called “Juicy, juicy green leaf”. This song turned into an enthusiastic sing’a’long with the kids, and a number of adults too. In fact, as I write this, I feel like breaking out in song as it was such a catchy tune. I won’t though, I’m not known for my singing, and I don’t wish to scare everyone.
Next up Mike drew a picture, using chalks, of a caterpillar. There was a technical glitch with Mike’s paper falling to the ground, but he was swiftly assisted by two able adults and a one very keen kid (see below). Mike’s glasses were trod on in the ensuing melee, but thanks to Shirley Stubbs’ timely mission to the local optometrist, I can report that the glasses are fixed. Thanks also to Mark for jumping in with a song to entertain the children. The paper was finally held in place, and Mike drew a really funny picture of a caterpillar that everyone loved, and got selfies with after the opening ceremony.
Andrew Antonelli, a local councillor, spoke next on behalf of the local council who are fantastic supporters of the StoryArts Festival. Andrew went on as follows, “When it comes to initiatives like this it is great to support groups like IDTLN. The hungry caterpillar is a metaphor, the kids are the caterpillars. Our young people need creativity, and need to maintain their imagination. The jobs that exist now, did not exist 30 years ago. And these jobs all need creativity and imagination. It’s not just a project, it’s a milestone, you as parents will be able to think back to today as the day they built on their creativity and imagination. I hope the little caterpillars in front of us take a big belly full of knowledge, and then go into a cocoon and come out as beautiful butterflies. Kids, turn around and thank your parents for bringing you here”.
A really sweet ribbon cutting ceremony, involving a few kids from the audience, was held next, check out this cute photo….
The six schools who participated in the Exhibition attended the opening ceremony and received participation certificates. Look how proud these kids were…
After the presentation ceremony Madame Butterfly invited everyone outside to enjoy the bookshop and an afternoon tea of caterpillar cupcakes and fruit platters that reminded of everyone of the fruit from the book. The cupcakes were scrumptious and a number of people were spotted sneaking one or more extra cupcakes, which they were more than welcome to. Enjoy the Festival everyone, it is going to be spectacular!
P.S. if you want to see a short video from the Grand Opening, just click HERE