Crowds still flock to Viva la Gong Festival after changes to the format this year

The came in their hundreds and by the end thousands of people took advantage of perfect weather on Saturday for a new look Viva La Gong Festival in MacCabe Park.

While there was no parade through the streets and mall this year it did not dampen anyone’s spirit for the annual cultural festival that consistently gets bigger and better every year.

After calling for submissions in April as Wollongong City Council planned to overhaul the colourful event the changes seemed to be a hit especially with hundreds of families who made the most of the day.

Viva La Gong: The Swingaleles were seen by thousands of people in MacCabe Park on Saturday. Picture: Georgia Matts.

Viva La Gong: The Swingaleles were seen by thousands of people in MacCabe Park on Saturday. Picture: Georgia Matts.

New additions were more comedy elements, circus performances and dozens of crochet poppies marking Remembrance Day.

There was also dancing, locally produced films played and animations and interactive art provided live elements to the rich arts and cultural program the Viva La Gong Festival has become famous for.

Need A Feed’s Shaz Harrison-Shaw manned a coffee van all day and said she had been busy the whole time after setting up very early to support the charity that helps put food on the tables of families in need in the Illawarra.

“I’m starting to feel pretty tired now but it has been a fantastic day,” she said.

Time will tell when official figures come in but the 18th Viva La Gong may have been the biggest yet in terms of attendance.

The annual arts and cultural festival started as a multi-day event in the year 2000 and has steadily grown every since.

The one day formed began a decade ago in 2007 after another review held around that time.

Wollongong City Council is keen to keep evolving and growing the event by giving the community what it wants.