A healthy dose of North Coast life

Gearing up for the Health and Herb Festival are Adam Bailey from Northern Rivers Volkswagons and Councils event planner John Bancroft (rear) with (front l-r) festival co-ordinator Lisa Audus, Ballina Manors head chef Ward Gunn, flamenco dancer Serena Joy and local musician Jimmy Willing with his daughter Gwynne and Circus the Singing Dog.

Singing and dancing in the streets, laughing, sharing stories, marvelling at talented performers, eating delicious food and learning about the wonders of the natural world are just some of the things you can look forward to at this weekends Health and Herb Festival.

The brief given to co-ordinator Lisa Audus was to bring all the best elements of the Northern Rivers lifestyle together for a giant celebration. And she soon discovered it was a big job.

Theres so much to celebrate about the North Coast and it just snowballed, laughed Lisa. The Northern Rivers community is brimming with creativity theres world-class musicians and quirky performers, gourmet foods, unique artists, a myriad of health and herb practitioners, sports and car enthusiasts, childrens entertainers and so much more. This festival showcases everything that local people love about the place they call home.

Lisa said festivals were held all over the world as a way to bring people together, foster community pride and create a sense of unity and identity.

Festivals bond the community and give us all an opportunity to celebrate the unique culture we have here a culture you cant find anywhere else in the world.

The Health and Herb Festival runs all day Saturday and Sunday, August 19-20.

Lisa says she and her team have tried hard to cater for the regions diverse population with an equally diverse program, so people from all walks of life have a reason to visit the festival and join the party.

One of the new features this year is the City Stage, which runs from 9.30am-12.30pm in the heart of the CBD. Hosted by David Hallett, it will include live music, a flamenco band, kids puppet show and other surprises. Whilst youre in the CBD you can also wander the block and admire The Shopfront Gallery, which showcases the works of around 30 local artists in shop windows.

Saturday mornings in Lismore are always bustling, and we wanted to create a festive ambience in the streets to kick off the weekend, said Lisa. We want the whole town to be alive and buzzing.

Other major highlights of the festival include:

Herbie Parade: Starting at 12.30pm on Saturday, a procession of VWs will wind its way from the Harold Fredericks car park through the CBD and down to Riverside Park. Cheer on the parade from the footpaths or head down to the river and admire the cars from 1-3pm.

Main Stage: Live music all day Saturday and Sunday including The Gypsy Caravan, Jimmy Willing & The Real Gone Hick-Ups, Aurora Jane, Stipsky and many more.

HerBBQ: Restaurant quality food stalls will be serving delicious regional cuisine with a focus on local produce and garden herbs.

Cooking Tent: Watch Ward Gunn from Ballina Manor, Peeter Pruul from Basilico and Todd Power from Bang Thai all cook up a storm.

Market Bazaar: A huge array of stalls selling everything from local produce, plants and potted herbs to handmade crafts, clothes and gifts.

Riverside Sports: Bungy trampoline, beach volleyball, martial arts, outrigger canoes, a rock climbing wall and fitness lessons by the river.

Skate Park: Skate and bike comps, hip hop demos, DJs and live music.

Festival Fun Run: Join a 5km or 10km course around the Wilsons River on Sunday morning.

Kids Capers in Heritage Park: Childrens activities galore with performances by the Spaghetti Circus, Atmo the Mime, Gypsy Rollers Puppet Show plus craft tent, face painting and train rides.

Thyme Out Corner in Heritage Park: Relax with a soothing cuppa in the tea garden, enjoy a free massage at the SCU Wellness Centre or visit the Talking Tent for a free educational talk on everything from natural healthcare to native foods.

This is just a small snapshot of the activities happening in the CBD, Heritage Park and Riverside Park this weekend. For a full program see page 24 and 25.

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