Nanango will be alive with entertainment on Saturday, October 4, when the town turns out to celebrate the Heritage Nanango Mardi Gras.
This year the popular annual festival has been moved back a few weeks from its usual mid-October timeslot to be part of the South Burnett and Cherbourg On Show long weekend.
As usual, the Mardi Gras will feature a full day of activities covering everything from the 36th running of the punishing King and Queen Of The Mountain foot races through to the perenially popular Mardi Gras Street Parade and a jam-packed afternoon and evening concert and festive markets in Pioneer Park, all capped off by a giant fireworks display at around 8:00pm.
But festival-goers visiting Nanango on Saturday can also add to their day out by paying a visit to the Nanango Markets in the morning; taking in the Heritage Nanango Mardi Gras Cup race meeting at the Lee Park racetrack south of the CBD; or dropping into the Nanango Cultural Centre to take in this year’s Mardi Gras art and sculpture exhibition.
The Nanango Markets will be running at the Nanango Showgrounds in Cairns Street from 6:00am to around noon; the Mardi Gras Cup will be running at the racecourse between 10:30am and 5:00pm (races run between 1:30pm and 4:30pm); and the art exhibition will be on display in the Cultural Centre between 9:00am and 3:00pm.
Admission to the markets and the art exhibition is free, and admission to the race meeting is $10 for adults and $5 for pensioners (under-15s are free).
This year’s Mardi Gras celebrations will kick off at 2:30pm in the afternoon with a Baby Show at the Karate 4 Kids Gym at Pioneer Park near the CBD.
Registrations will be accepted from 2:00pm and judging and the awarding of prizes will take place at around 3:30pm.
The Baby Show will includes a Kids & Babies Market and rides, and will offer trophies for the Overall Champion boy and girl, best dressed boy and girl, best smile, brightest eyes and best personality on the day.
There’ll also be first, second and third-place ribbons for bubs aged up to 6 months, 6-12 months, 1-2 years and 2-4 years, plus four first prize books and eight consolation prizes.
Following the Baby Show, a Litlin Dash for youngsters aged 7-12 will be held at the corner of Fitzroy and Drayton Streets in the heart of town.
Registrations for this new event will open at 3:00pm and the races will be held at 4:00pm.
There’ll be a 400m dash for 7-8 year olds; an 800m dash for 9-10 year olds; and a 1000m dash for 11-12 year olds, with medals awarded to the first, second and third boys and girls in each age group, along with lucky draw prizes.
The Litlin Dash will be a warm-up for the annual King and Queen Of The Mountain foot races, which will be run from the corner of Fitzroy and Drayton Streets up Hospital Hill and back.
Race check-in time is 4:00pm, and the races will start at 4:30pm at the conclusion of the Litlin Dash.
This year there’ll be categories for King and Queen (over 15 years), Prince and Princess (15 years and younger) and Seniors (50+ years), with $500 cash prizes for the winners of the King and Queen category, along with cash prizes and trophies for the winners of the other categories.
Following the conclusion of the foot races, the giant Mardi Gras Street Parade will wend its way through the town’s CBD.
This year the parade has been moved to a new twilight timeslot.
Floats will assemble in George Street at 4:30pm and the parade will kick off at 5:30pm, moving up Drayton Street to Fowlers Lane before returning down along the same route to Pioneer Park for close-up float viewing by the crowd and the presentation of trophies.
Nanango’s Mardi Gras Street Parade is the biggest street parade in the South Burnett and attracts so many floats that it usually lasts around an hour – truly a “must see” experience for anyone who’s never seen it before (and a much-loved experience for almost everyone who has).
At Pioneer Park, meanwhile, there’ll be markets and roving entertainers in full swing from 3:00pm to around 8:00pm, along with a major music concert at the Pioneer Park amphitheatre featuring many of the South Burnett’s best musicians and performers, along with special acts from Brisbane and Cherbourg.
This year’s concert schedule is as follows:
The 2014 Mardi Gras will be capped off between 8:00pm and 8:15pm with its traditional Giant Fireworks Display, followed by a Lone Piper performance.
Admission to the festivities in Pioneer Park is completely free.
[UPDATED with correction]