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Mongrel Hits The Right Note

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Three generations of Steve Langton's family helped Mongrel the tractor give its world premiere performance on Saturday night

September 16, 2012

It’s not often that you can say that a Mongrel stole the show …

But that’s what happened on Saturday night when a Mongrel of a tractor (a “bitzer” made of a hundred different parts) took centre stage at the 2012 Tractor Tattoo spectacular.

The good crowd who packed into Kingaroy’s Town Hall forecourt enjoyed a smorgasbord of regional talent performing on two sound stages.

The star of the show was the musical tractor hand-crafted by Steve Langton (complete with its own “Mongrel” badge) . It not only took part in a solo performance, but also was also central to a four-part piece composed by musician Peter Rankine for choirs, mass band and tractor.

As well, the $1000 winner of the region-wide “Gathering Of The Tractors” arts competition was announced. Congratulations to the Nanango Art Society and the four $100 runners-up: Murgon State School, Coolabunia State School, Art Geckos and the Go Getta Girls.

The competition was sponsored by Stanwell, the South Burnett Regional Council, CROW-FM and

The audience were also treated to some spoken and audio-visual presentations … not surprisingly, about tractors.

And a fireworks display launched from nearby Memorial Park capped off the evening.

Soprano Susan Dowideit-Reiger gave a mesmerising solo performance of a traditional Irish folk song as well as conducting the Kingaroy State High School Choir

Saturday’s spectacular was the highlight of a month-long festival which has involved regional art galleries, libraries, and literally dozens of South Burnett schools and not-for-profit community groups.

In some ways – quite apart from its value as good-natured (if slightly off-beat) family entertainment – the evening could also be said to be the night that South Burnett arts and culture finally came of age.

In fact, the crowd that attended Tractor Tattoo was approximately the same size as the crowd that packed into Fred Kassulke Oval in Nanango earlier that same day to cheer on the region’s Rugby League Grand Finals – proof of studies that have found the number of Australians involved in the arts is now about equal to the number of people involved in sports.

The winners of the Stanwell "Gathering Of The Tractors" competition: Coolabunia State School, Art Geckos, NANART, Murgon State School and the Go Getta Girls

The event was opened by South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann and “piped in” by Highland piper Ross Page.

For the next two and a half hours, a procession of local bands, singers and actors drawn from all parts of the region entertained the crowds on two stages,  one at the front of the Town Hall, the other at the front of the Kingaroy Library.

They included the Wondai & District Band; sporano soloist Sue Dowideit-Reiger, the South Burnett Youth Choir, The Clan, a massed junior band, Sing Australia, the South Burnett Chorale, the Kingaroy State High School Stage Band and actors from the Nanango Theatre Company.

There was even a percussion solo on rubbish bins!

Then Steve Langton – who put “Mongrel” the Musical Tractor together from a body donated by South Burnett tractor enthusiast Russell Dower – got on stage with members of his family to give the tractor its world premiere performance.

Musician Peter Rankin concluded Tractor Tattoo with a massed concert for choirs, bands and tractor


The Tractor Tattoo spectacular was the culmination of many fun activities for arts and community groups throughout the region for several months.

“Mongrel” the tractor will now become part of the region’s collection and there are plans for it to tour around the region in the near future, as possibly even to other areas in Queensland.

Tractor Tattoo was funded by Federal and State Government grants from the Regional Arts Fund, the Australian Council for the Arts and Arts Queensland.

Performers from many different South Burnett musical groups collaborated in special massed bands during the night's performance

Steve Langton, right, explains how the musical tractor was built

Students came from school bands across the region to perform

Unusual performances - like synchronised rubbish bin percussion - helped keep the mood upbeat

Nadine Gray from Kingaroy conducted the Massed Regional Primary School Band, which was made up of students from Murgon, Wondai and Kingaroy State Schools

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One Response to Mongrel Hits The Right Note

  1. Valda Langton

    Congratulations to you all for the wonderful programme last Saturday evening! The organising of such an event was a mammoth effort, and the result was outstanding. I felt the sense of community and family as the evening progressed. Well done!

    It was a joy and privilege to be part of it as “Grandma”, the eldest of the 3 generations of Langtons of “Mongrel” fame! I have just about recovered my limited stamina!

    My visit to Kingaroy that weekend will long stay in my memory. Every time I recall the event, I have a warm glow around my heart and a smile on my face.

    Thanks for the experience.

    Valda Langton (Steve’s Mum)