Culture a focus for 20th event

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Thousands of Australians will travel to Derby next week for one of WA’s largest cultural celebrations, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary.

The Mowanjum Festival, renowned for being the largest indigenous corroboree open to the public in the State, will mark the milestone next Thursday.

The festival showcases the cultural life of the Ngarinyin, Worrorra and Wunambal peoples and includes traditional stories of the Mowanjum people.

Song and dance is an important part of the celebration and involves a range of cultural artists from across the Kimberley.

Reconciliation and unity are at the core of the annual event, which aims to engage the entire community in sustaining ancient traditions and encourages younger generations to embrace their culture.

This year’s festival will also include a theatrical puppet show, to tell an ancient story about a flood, entitled Wanalirri.

A variety of workshops will run before the performance aspect of the celebration, whereby activities such as boab nut carving, ochre painting and didgeridoo playing will take place.

Festival co-ordinator Peter Croll said both children and elders were important aspects of this milestone celebration.

“The festival helps to keep the community members’ cultural identity strong through traditional performances,” he said.

“The elders see the festival as a means of being able to express their culture and passing it onto a younger generation.

“By having the youth involved in the festival, it ensures there is a continuation of cultural practice by engaging them in all aspects of the traditional performance.”

Tickets will be available at the gate on July 6 at Mowanjum Art and Cultural Centre on the Gibb River Road, 12km from Derby.

The festival starts with workshops at 2pm, with corroborees from 6pm.

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