BIG EVENT FOR SMALL HALL: Kalpowar's newly-renovated hall was sold out at last year’s Festival of Small Halls. Photo: Melinda Jones
BIG EVENT FOR SMALL HALL: Kalpowar's newly-renovated hall was sold out at last year’s Festival of Small Halls. Photo: Melinda Jones

Why our small halls still matter

NEXT Friday, Kalpowar Hall, one of a dozen or so small halls in the North Burnett, will be the site of a big performance.

For the second consecutive year, it will host a tour date of the Festival of Small Halls Australia.

Meagan Ellerton, the committee’s public relations officer, said securing the date is a coup for the tiny, isolated town.

Aussie duo Hat Fitz and Cara will perform at this year's Festival of Small Halls Summer Tour in Kalpowar.
Aussie duo Hat Fitz and Cara will perform at this year's Festival of Small Halls Summer Tour in Kalpowar.

“Nothing happens out here, no one comes, so to have an international and Australian act come to perform is massive,” Ms Ellerton said.

“Kalpowar is such a cool little town, it’s a quiet place.

“We all have morning tea together once a week on a Friday.”

Ms Ellerton said the committee of six has put an enormous amount of effort into the hall and it is now in rude health.

She said in the time she’s been on the committee, the hall has secured about $85,000 via grants and other fundraising efforts.

Kalpowar's newly-renovated hall was sold out at last year’s Festival of Small Halls. Photo: Melinda Jones
Kalpowar's newly-renovated hall was sold out at last year’s Festival of Small Halls. Photo: Melinda Jones

It’s been repainted, restumped, had concrete laid and a new kitchen installed.

“(The hall) is so vital out here,” Ms Ellerton said.

“We are 40km away from anywhere, so when it floods, we are stuck here.

“The hall is our community safe space.”

The festival’s producer, Eleanor Rigden, agreed with Ms Ellerton.

“Small halls are just the classic example of an essential element in any town – a place to gather,” she said.

“That they’re historically significant (Kalpowar Hall was built in 1954) just adds to the richness of their legacy – the walls are lined with memories and they’re precious to people who have marked major moments in their lives there.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people who have moved out into new towns and found themselves lonely and isolated without that social factor, and that can be really hard to find without a space that everyone feels like they can go to, have a sense of communal ownership over and bring their families.”

Burleigh bottle slide performer Jackson 'El Mariachi' Dunn opened the show at the Kalpowar Festival of Small Halls last year. Photo: File
Burleigh bottle slide performer Jackson 'El Mariachi' Dunn opened the show at the Kalpowar Festival of Small Halls last year. Photo: File

Ms Rigden noted that Woodfordia Inc, the company which runs both the Festival of Small Halls and Woodford Folk Festival, has an important connection to the North Burnett.

“We love North Burnett – you might already know, but our ‘home’ hall, that we put up every year for the Woodford Folk Festival, is modelled on Degilbo Hall,” she said.

The Kalpowar tour date will kick off at 6.30pm next Friday night.

It will feature performances by Monto percussionist Jespar Delaney-O’Reilly, Australian folk, roots and gospel blues duo Hat Fitz & Cara, and British singer-songwriter and guitarist Blair Dunlop.

Ms Ellerton said there will also be market stalls in the afternoon, an art display by the Monto Art Group, a licensed bar, and local food vans.

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Ms Ellerton said last year’s performance as part of the festival “sold out and then some”, and that tickets for next Friday were again selling out fast.

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