Adelaide has a thriving and diverse LGBTQI community- and it’s getting more so. Despite COVID there have been exciting new developments in Adelaide with at least three new venues opening up this year plus the existing venues are thriving, plus Adelaide’s diverse community includes sporting and social clubs which are increasing in membership across a range of ages including young to older.” Helen Sheldon, CEO and general manager of Feast Festival tells Star Observer.

Despite the odds, Helen and her team have this year pulled off a near impossible feat, having recently launched Feast Festival’s 24th program. Albeit in a slightly different format to previous years, the festival will once again turn Adelaide rainbow from Nov 7-29. With a sumptuous array of events to delight and inspire. In the face of 2020, Feast Festival will most importantly bring together Adelaide’s queer communities.

Reflecting on the year that has been, and the challenges of pulling off a festival in the midst of a global pandemic, Sheldon continues. 

We’ve been very lucky in South Australia in terms of the government response to COVID-19. We certainly don’t have the same level of restrictions as somewhere like Melbourne. But having said that, there are still those usual base rules around density, social distancing and crowd control.

“With that in mind, what would have normally been our very celebratory opening night party, which we were going to have at Victoria Square, we had to cancel. Because of the restrictions around drinking and dancing I could not think of a way we could have had an opening night party that had both, in a safe way.

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 This year’s celebratory opening will this year be replaced by Quiz By Twilight, an event sure to still deliver all the usual opening night glitz and glamour. Hosted by South Australia’s Queen of comedy, Lori Bell the event will feature special (virtual) appearances from social media sensation Christian Hull, and Real Housewives Of Melbourne star Gamble Breaux and a host of other special guest presenters.

We are having Quiz By Twilight in the Migration Museum Courtyard on Nov 7, under the Feast Flamingo Pavilion. We are also using the event as an opportunity to showcase some of the artists that are appearing this year.”

Easily a highlight of the festival program, Feast Festivals much-loved community focused, Picnic In The Park will this year also be going ahead. Taking over Pinky Flat at Adelaide Oval on Nov 29, it will feature artisan market stalls showcasing cuisines from local food vendors, and South Australian made and owned beverages, alongside a number of community stores, and stacks of entertainment.

We are just in final negotiations with SA Health to make sure we have all the rules in place to make sure it is a COVIDsafe event. It’s laid back, people can come in their own social groups. At past picnics we have had a DJ and people can dance, but this year we are not doing it this way – we will have a DJ but no dancing. We will also have more bars than we had last year, to help with being COVIDsafe, Sheldon explains.

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 Moving on to films, and this year Adelaide Feast Festival will be presenting something to appeal to even the most desiring queer film goer.

“We have about 4 entrée films which are part of us working with the Adelaide Film Festival, one of them Shiva, I saw recently, and it was just brilliant.

Then further on in the program, at the Capri Cinema, we have a collection of shorts which are a precursor to the main film, And Then We Danced. It’s a queer night of queer films curated by Queer Screen, it should be a really good night. They did a similar event last year and it was very popular.”

Our interview moves to the topic of music, and as Sheldon explains, there are two standout events part of this year’s Feast Festival, that should not be missed.

“It’s such a wide selection of events this year We even have a musician coming from interstate. Emma Rowe, The Vains, and Prophets Of Impending Doom are from Darwin, for them to be coming over to perform is so exciting that this [kind of touring] can still happen.

“We also have Alison Copper, who is part of The Janes, they are releasing their Torrensville EP, at The Wheatsheaf Hotel on Nov 20. For those that don’t know it, The Wheatsheaf is a very popular hotel – it’s very inclusive and has such a good vibe.”

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 Queer writers of Adelaide have not been left out in the dark this year either. With the historic Treasury 1860 transformed once again by Feast Festival into a hub of queer literature as a central part of this year’s program.

We’ve got our whole collection of Writing Live which is really popular and sells out every year. It’s a collection of events which are held at our writing hub – which is held at Treasury 1860, which used to be a bank a long time ago before it was turned into a hotel,” Sheldon explains.

Queers underground is held down in the underground tunnels at Treasury 1860. Here we will also have Poetry Pride and the 2020 short story competition which we do in conjunction with Writers SA. Another great event is Write Blak, which is a very interesting evening of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQI song and storytelling. It really is a huge array.”  

Rounding out Feast Festival’s 24th arts program will be a whole stack of live performances and shows. Each in their own way reflecting the enthusiasm of artists’ and the necessity they feel to return to work, to entertain and to shed light on a community that still has many important stories to tell. Among many highlights, is a showcalled, Brown Sissy Boy.

“It was made by one of the dancers from Australian Dance Theatre here in Adelaide, Thomas Fonua. He and his alter ego, Kween Kong are doing the first sketch of physical theatre work which explores the emotional limitations around gender roles which we’ve inherited by western patriarchy and it’s around that idea of how femininity is seen as a weakness in society.”

With over 100 events in total, this year’s Feast Festival really does present something for everyone.

“The program we have this year is the biggest we’ve had, and I think that’s a testament to the increase in people’s interest in wanting to put shows and events forward. Feast is interesting because it is a queer arts and culture festival. So, it doesn’t just have the arts program it does still have very strong links with community forums events and workshops. It’s a celebration of the rich and diverse culture that we have here in Adelaide.

Nov 7-29. For more info head to www.feast.org.au

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