Your complete guide to the Mackay Festival of Arts

Published: 17 Jul 2019

Experts are warning of a new contagion set to sweep Mackay this month.

Dubbed Festival Fever by those in the know, symptoms - which include being extremely entertained, enthralled and entirely well-fed - are expected to last until the end of July.

Mayor Greg Williamson said he expected the 'fever' to really take hold of the community this Saturday, July 20, when 20,000-plus food, wine and music enthusiasts descend on Queens Park.

"Headlined by Mental as Anything, featuring 30 food vendors, 13 bands on two stages, more than 20 market stalls, Kidzone Tepee Territory and two bars, the G&S Engineering Wine and Food Day is always a great day out," Cr Williamson said.

"Better yet, entry is completely free.

"The entertainment kicks off at 10.30am and runs until 5.30pm, and there really will be something for everyone - whether you're looking for a family day out, wanting to dance up a storm or just want to sprawl on the lawn with some good food and cold drinks."

Cr Williamson said the music on offer covered plenty of genres.

"From Mental as Anything's pop-rock pub classics, to funk, soul, dance, jazz, blues, folk, indie, country, punk, rock and roll and classic ballads - the styles and influences on offer will fit the fun, relaxed atmosphere perfectly.

"The Grassroots Stage headliners Wanderers are an Adelaide soul-roots trio that will be well worth checking out, and The Natural Culture, who are on the Main Stage, are a seven-piece that will fill the dance floor as the shadows lengthen in the afternoon."

Cr Justin Englert said it was fantastic the G&S Engineering Wine and Food Day gave exposure to up-and-coming local performers.

"We've got really talented locals who thrive on the festival atmosphere," he said.

"Solo artists like Heath Milner, Jade Fiyen, Bella Mackenzie, Kate Lockyer and Tate Obst will have the chance to play in front of a massive home-town crowd and will undoubtedly put on a great show."

> Event becomes a sea of lights

A turtle the size of a city bus is coming to the Botanic Gardens for the Mackay Festival of Arts.

The 15-metre, 375-kilogram inflatable black and white turtle, named Alphie, is a creation of Queensland artist BJ Price.

The turtle will be just one of the giant whimsical sea creatures at this year's DBCT Illuminate spectacular.

There will also be a three-metre crocodile, a five-metre water dragon and assorted other creative creatures of the seas, many made by locals.

This free event will light up the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens from Monday, July 22, to Friday, July 26.  It will run nightly from 6-9pm.

Cr Ayril Paton said DBCT Illuminate would be a treat for all the senses this year.

"There'll be plenty of food on offer, including tasty platters, and a host of on-stage entertainment at the amphitheatre, as well as roving circus entertainers," he said.

"The Jack Sturgeon Stage entertainment will include band Three Way Crossing and all the local talent that is usually on display at the Lunchbox Concerts in Caneland Central."

Access to the event will only be from the Meadowlands side, via Crowleys Rd.

> Bluewater Big Band to jazz up brunch event

DELECTABLE pastries, delicious Canadian maple bacon and a feast of sumptuous local jazz sounds awaits you on the final day of the festival.

The Friends of the MECC Jazz Brunch will be held in the MECC North Foyer on Sunday, July 28, from 11am to 1pm.

Cr Justin Englert said the feedback on the past few years from jazz aficionados was that they wanted a more traditional jazz sound.

"Well, this year we've pulled out the big band - the Bluewater Big Band that is," he said.

"This creative, 14-piece ensemble is a collaboration of local musicians, teachers and music hobbyists who share a passion for jazz and big band playing.

"They are led by band 'instigator' Kate Agioritis, and are set apart by their sheer joy for jazz and making music together.

"Their love for playing music really is infectious."

Bluewater Big Band will be joined on stage by special guest vocalist Mr Jeremy Adams.

This event is always a crowd favourite, so get your tickets quickly. It is proudly supported by the Friends of the MECC and ABC Tropical North.

> Magical musical family circus

Musical mayhem and mesmerising movement will combine to make Wolfgang's Magical Musical Circus a Festival of Arts family favourite.

A wholesome offering designed to amaze people from the age of three and upwards, this fun show reinvents the composer's magical music in a skilful and illuminating circus show.

Held on Tuesday, July 23, at 6.30pm in the MECC Auditorium, family passes for this show are just $60 (two adults and two children).

Cr Justin Englert said the show was a perfect Festival of Arts event for families.

"This is a funny take on the story of Mozart," he said.

"It features plenty of tumbling and twirling, physical comedy and mischievous antics.

"The story follows Wolfgang who is a bit of a pun-loving ratbag, but to those who are watching and listening, he is the genius composer Mozart."

Wolfgang's Magical Musical Circus is a creation of Circa Contemporary Circus.

One of the world's leading performance companies, Circa has toured the globe - performing in 39 countries to over a million people.

> MECC hosts epic opera love story

A classic opera by Puccini that inspired the hit musical Miss Saigon is headed to the MECC during the Mackay Festival of Arts.

Madama Butterfly is a beautiful, haunting love story that transcends cultures, oceans and time.

It follows an American naval officer who is enchanted by a Japanese geisha bride and the geisha, Butterfly, who falls hopelessly in love with him.

The show starts at 7.30pm on Saturday, July 27, and will be in the MECC Auditorium.

Madama Butterfly will be performed by the amazing Opera Australia cast with the accompaniment of a chamber orchestra and a children's chorus drawn from our region.

Cr Justin Englert said the MECC was also offering special pre-show dining for this event.

"Our chefs are cooking up a special two-course menu that will complement a classy night out," he said.

"There's a baked ricotta with lemon, caper and olive salad and a Chicken Agrodolce, which is a slow cooked chicken Maryland in a sweet saffron, thyme and wine broth with pine nuts, creamy mash and baby peas."