Exploring the joys and challenges of fatherhood

Founder of the Fatherhood Festival, Colin George, with his kids Nina and Harry.

Having lost his own father at the age of seven and having since raised five children of his own, Colin George is well aware of how pivotal a father is in a childs life.

Colin believes most fathers yearn to be great dads but often lack the confidence, role models or support to be the father they want, which prompted him to stage the worlds first Fatherhood Festival in Bangalow in 2004 opened by Andrew Denton.

The festival is now looking at going national.

I didnt know how to be the father Id never had, Colin explains, a dilemma that many men in society understand well. The Fatherhood Festival has proved to be an avenue for men and their families to come together and explore the myriad issues modern fathers face, and experience genuine support.

Colin said the real crux of the Fatherhood Festival was sharing stories, and as a result men were often inspired to get in touch with children they hadnt seen for years.

We hear some beautiful stories, he said. Its what its all about fathers connecting with their children.

The Fatherhood Festival opens on Friday, September 1, with a concert by festival patron John Butler in solo acoustic mode. Tickets are $40 from the website below or from Southern Cross Credit Union branches, with proceeds supporting the Expectant and New Dads Mentoring program. Saturday, September 2, includes a relationship forum and public discussion as well as a photographic exhibition and evening short film festival, all in the Bangalow A&I Hall.

Sundays the day to bring the whole family for a range of activities from motorcycle rides to video-making to cooking for blokes, drumming, tree planting, kids performances, a Pete Murray show and much more. For info and tickets visit www.fatherhoodfestival.com or phone 6688 4071.

Freebie: The Echo has a Fatherhood CD (featuring songs about fatherhood from artists such as Paul Kelly, Xavier Rudd and John Butler) to give away, along with a Leunig T-shirt and a double pass to the short film festival. To go in the draw to win phone 6622 2888 between 10.30 & 10.45am on Monday, August 21, and tell us who opened the first Fatherhood Festival in 2004.

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