Strings of bunting, men on uni-cycles, travelling minstrels, squealing preschoolers and some very unusual papier mache pets were crammed into Wollongong City Gallery yesterday for the launch of the annual Viva La Gong festival.
The gallery’s entrance hall was transformed into a raucous circus as actors, singers, artists, musicians and acrobats came together to start the count down to the November 10 MacCabe Park arts festival.
The council’s community and cultural library services manager Jenny Thompson said this year’s festival was designed to give residents ownership over their city.
‘‘Viva is a really celebration of Wollongong, and gives us a chance to showcase the talent that is in our community,’’ she said.
‘‘People can go along to see performances from lots of different genres and this year there’s a really large number of practical workshops so we can have a real sense of ownership for the community.’’
Dressed in glittering masquerade costumes, wandering minstrels Kate Cameron and Bianca Moseley said the festival would be a chance practice their theatre skills on the public.
The women will join other actors from Phoenix Theatre to put on a colourful travelling show during Viva La Gong.
‘‘It’s a great experience to see different types of Wollongong’s culture and ways this is expressed through different art forms,’’ Ms Cameron said.
‘‘And it’s great to be able to make kids laugh – they always seem to love our act.’’
Organisers said this year’s festival would be the biggest yet, with an extended music program, more stalls and a new Illawarra Folk Festival lounge.
Yung Warriers, Alotta Presha and Barons of Tang and Lindsay ‘‘The Doctor’’ McDougall will head the performance bill.