Tuggeranong’s annual festival of everything ‘southside’ happens this Saturday (16 November), showcasing the local businesses and talent that bring the Tuggeranong community together.
SouthFest coordinator Taryn Langdon said that like the Tuggeranong community itself, SouthFest has evolved from its beginnings as the Tuggeranong Community Festival.
This is the second year the festival has been known as SouthFest, and it returns to the streets and laneways of the Tuggeranong Town Centre with a day of celebration, markets, food, activities and entertainment.
“SouthFest is all about bringing the community together and showcasing what is great about living in the Tuggeranong Valley. We’ll be showcasing local talent, local businesses and connecting the local community,” Ms Langdon said.
The Tuggeranong Arts Centre will showcase Queer Stage, featuring local drag queen Areola Grande and her Werkin’ Girls who will deliver camp, fierce and sexy moves that celebrate pride and diversity.
The so-called ‘Godfather of Indigenous comedy’, Sean Choolburra, will bring his routine created from a variety of life experiences, stories and observations. Also performing is the dedicated local advocate for queer artists, Florin Risley, who will perform with guitarist Beth Monzo.
Further showcasing the diversity of talent is Melbourne-based duo The Merindas creating an atmospheric fusion of Indigenous pop sounds, while Australia’s premier showgirl from the bush, Constantina Bush, will return her unique stories of life in song and stories in the form of the female alter-ego of First Nations Australian artist Kamahi Djordon King.
Constantina said she is getting a good following here in Canberra after performances at the National Gallery of Australia and events in the area.
“We’ve been trying to get more involvement in festivals for the LGBTQ+ community, so festivals like this where people can see us in our element tend to help the community accept us more,” Constantina said.
SouthFest attracted more than 14,000 people last year and will feature more than 220 stallholders, performers and activities.
“Thanks to more than 20 generous partners and supporters and community support, all activities at SouthFest are free,” Ms Langdon said.
“The support from partners like McIntyre Property means that we are able to produce an event where families can join the party without any expense.”
McIntyre Property is involved with the fun park activities for kids of all ages, while the eat street section has a selection of the region’s best food and drink vendors.
Vikings Group also has a sports hub with free demonstrations of a variety of sports.
“We’ve worked hard to really reinvigorate the event, with lots of businesses and community groups in Tuggeranong coming together for SouthFest,” Ms Langdon said.
“We can really say that the event now showcases everyone in our community and the messages and entertainment that they want to see in the festival.
“The real value of the festival is that everyone who comes will walk away with a new connection to a part of the area, whether it’s to a local business or a sports group or a community club, we want everyone to have that connection and come away with a bit of Tuggers pride!
“We’re proud to be breathing life into the Tuggeranong Town Centre, which hasn’t seen a lot of love and attention over the years, and we hope that will inspire other businesses to invest in the space as the ACT Government redevelops the space further in the future.”
One of the staunch advocates for the Tuggeranong Town Centre is Rauny Worm, CEO of the Tuggeranong Arts Centre, which celebrates its 30th birthday next year.
“Some of our partners such as Communities@Work and YWCA have all been here for a long time and are a big part of the community celebration that is SouthFest,” Ms Worm said.
“It means a lot to see the cultural and artistic development of the area over the years. It’s changed a lot and we like to challenge the community with things like the Queer Stage. We’re saying ‘look, this is a really important and creative part of our community’ and we know that people are going to love what’s being showcased.”