Around 5,000 people came to the inaugural Festival of Glass on Sunday 20 February. The figure far exceeded the Festival committee's expectations and is a massive endorsement of a dream that's taken 15 months to become reality.
Thirty stalls presented glass in all its forms, including sculpture, jewellery, mosaic, stained glass, leadlight, moulded glass, slumped glass and etched glass. There was glass at the cutting edge (ouch!) and a blast of glass from the past with antiques and collectibles.
There were demonstrations of various was of working with glass, including bead-making, glass fusing, kiln forming, beadweaving, copper foiling and leadlighting. Short videos introduced people to the economics and local history of glass and to the extraordinary 'glass harmonica' invented by Benjamin Franklin.
For visitors, there was more to do than just look and admire, browse and buy. Lots of people brought glass items to the popular Old Glass Roadshow. Voting was fierce for the titles of best glass-related story, poem, song, painting or photograph and for best glass jewellery; and the raffle prizes (glass, of course) were so attractive that the raffle tickets nearly ran out!
Visitors overwhelmed by the scale and diversity of glass on show had a variety of musical alternatives throughout the day. The Festival showcased four local acts - The Gems, Judy McGovern, Paper (the band formerly known as Steer) and a local barbershop quartet.
The Lions sizzled almost as much as their sausages, but Rotary were as cool as their drinks; and the baked potato man out of potatoes - in front of a Potato Shed! 'This has never happened before', he said and booked-up for next year!
Finally, the Festival's commitment to sustainability was evident in various ways. A public drinking fountain dispensed with the need for plastic bottles and was accompanied by tips on being water-wise; extra rubbish and recycling bins kept the whole site clean and were accompanied by tips on recycling; and each stallholder was asked to think about the amount of energy consumed in their products and the nature of their packaging.
Thanks to our sponsors, including the City of Greater Geelong (Arts & Culture) and the Bendigo Bank for their support.
And now ... the organising starts for the 2012 Festival of Glass!