October 10, 2017
If there’s any truth to the old belief that rain falling on a significant event is lucky, then Blackbutt’s Memorial Hall should have many, many happy years ahead of it.
Earlier this year the hall was moved from its former location in Coulson Street to a new site in Bowman Road to make way for a supermarket.
On Saturday it was officially reopened with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a plaque unveiling, followed by a gala concert.
Council workers had spent the previous two weeks feverishly laying and linemarking a new bitumen carpark and installing lighting and landscaping for the hall, as well as attending to some roof repairs.
Rain bucketed down just a few minutes after Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington cut the opening ribbon, and continued to fall all afternoon.
But none of the 150 guests who’d come for the occasion seemed to mind.
Instead, they watched a slideshow of old photos cataloguing memorable moments in the Hall’s history that had been prepared by Ken Crumpton from the Blackbutt and District Tourism and Heritage Association while they waited for the afternoon’s entertainment to get underway.
Mrs Frecklington told the audience it was originally planned that Mayor Keith Campbell would compere the afternoon’s entertainment and she’d deliver some closing remarks.
However she had to return to Kingaroy to take part in Relay For Life, so she and the Mayor swapped roles.
Mrs Frecklington said she was very impressed with the hall and congratulated everyone involved in its relocation for doing a first class job.
She was sad she couldn’t stay for the afternoon’s concert, but wished everyone a great time.
After this, Mayor Campbell took the stage and noted that some people had initially been opposed to the hall being moved, but this sentiment now appeared to be a thing of the past.
“I’ve run into lots of people in recent weeks who’ve been delighted with how well the move has worked out and I’ve yet to run into anyone who isn’t,” the Mayor said while the rain pelted down outside.
“Thanks to the work carried out by (supermarket developer) Steve Maller and his crew, this hall is now in better shape than it ever used to be, and look – no leaks!”
The Mayor asked Mr Maller from the stage if his new supermarket was still on track to open before Christmas.
Mr Maller said no, there’d been a slight schedule slippage; he now expected it would open its doors in late January or early February.
After this, the concert began with three songs from the Blackbutt Singers, followed by a flute solo played by Kingaroy State High School student Samantha Kassulke.
The Sweethearts Of Song – four members of the Esk Community Choir – followed with four lively swing and R&B classics, and Jocelyn Richardson and Peter Ainslie from the Nanango Theatre Company delivered a one-act play.
Then Linda Hall and Anna Walker from the Blackbutt Singers sang three songs as solos and duets before opera soprano Calista Walters sang Dvorak’s “Song To The Moon” and Lehar’s “Vilja” in an electrifying performance which drew a standing ovation.
The afternoon concluded with Blackbutt Singers performing “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” and inviting the audience to join them in singing “I Am Australian” – which many did – before ending with the group’s signature tune “Go With A Song In Your Heart”.
Mayor Keith Campbell announced the raffle and door prizes, then thanked organisers Judy Lawrence and Sandra Marshall for putting the day together, then asked Cr Gavin Jones onstage to deliver his own remarks.
A clearly emotional Cr Jones said that as a man who was born and raised in Blackbutt, he was very proud of the Memorial Hall and proud it would now give the town a much better facility in a much better location.
He was relieved the relocation had gone as smoothly as it did, and looked forward to the town’s new supermarket like everyone else.
After this, guests mingled over finger foods, tea, coffee and the Hall’s bar while the rain continued to pour down outside, with members of the Taromeo Music Club playing on the Hall’s porch behind plastic sheeting to stay dry.