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Penola and Coonawarra festival this weekend

Creativity and culture will collide as Penola and Coonawarra gear up for the region’s 16th arts festival, to be held this weekend (May 18–20).

The vivacious and eclectic festival program offers something for everyone, from a collection of short films, to a performance of the legendary Co-Opera’s “Kiss Me, Kate”, and on to a range of exquisite art exhibitions.

There will also be a cabaret style performance by Andy Seymour, a family rock concert, local chefs cooking up a storm, while the place to be seen after dark will be Heyward’s Royal Oak Hotel’s “Red Room.

The not for profit festival is continuing to grow, staged by a volunteer committee of 13, with the majority of funds coming from grants including ARTS SA, SATC, Wattle Range Council, Limestone Coast Tourism, Coonawarra Vignerons Association and the private sector.

"It brings together vignerons, local business owners, accommodation providers, restaurants and cafes, art galleries and locals, while economically it brings people from outside of the area into the district whether it be from Naracoorte, Hamilton, Adelaide or Melbourne," festival committee president Fiona Luestner said.

Ms Luestner estimated up to 4000 visitors travelled to the region for the event, to be held from May 18–20.

"Our aim is to provide access to the arts at reasonable prices so that all can participate, there are free exhibitions, well priced workshops to take part in. We try to keep the main event ticket prices down and ensure there are free family events. We are fortunate that the majority of our cellar doors host events such as Penley Estate featuring exhibitions by Mark Warren and Sue Chenery,” she said

"This festival allows the people of Penola and Coonawarra to share their wonderful lifestyle with others."

Ms Luestner said her personal festival highlights included Andy Seymour and Co-Opera at The Poplars Winery, the newest cellar door in Coonawarra and the SA Short Screen Awards 2007 Regional Tour Night at Leconfield Winery.

There will also be art prizes awarded, with the annual John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize and the PDBATA Acquisitive Photographic Competition hosted by Yalumba Coonawarra Estate 'The Menzies'.

Full festival information can be found at http://www.artsfestival.com.au



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