Dive for Cover – Fremantle’s Street Arts Festival had it all and more.
Easter Weekend showed the best face of the city to the outside world. Streets were packed; the fragrance of hot dogs blended beautifully with the unmistakable scent of a sheep ship in the harbour as tens of thousands of people happily rubbed shoulders and soaked up world class entertainment on their doorstep.
Even a handful of councillors were allowed out alone for this festival, all with smiles. And so they should have for they were strolling around and seeing first hand what people really enjoy. The seedy shadow of the city was well out of sight.
A warning from the Easter Bunny
A few people had experiences which turned their negative impression of the city around. One happy car parker had not purchased a ticket from a meter and the Easter Bunny gave him a parking infringement notice with a zero to pay note and a friendly reminder not to do it again.
Many buskers were armed with their favourite weapons – flaming torches chucked around with gay abandon in a practice called juggling. It’s designed to instil fear into the unwary. The city’s own favourite, the bagpiper from hell, was frightening every living creature within earshot. You can understood why the Scots let pipers lead them into battle, only to find the enemy had scarpered in terror. But no, the world’s only ‘Flame-throwing Punk Rock Piper’, as he bills himself, rapped it out to a massive crowd. I hope he and his somewhat less intimidating and infinitely more attractive fishnet clad partner made a healthy quid in face of the overseas competition.
Whispers Wine Bar in the Essex Street was comfortably full (the customers were not). A group of the city’s musicians, guitars in one hand, glass of red in the other, settled in the small upstairs room and started a small jam session, adding a musical moment
The only train was full of bunnies
In the High Street Mall, not letting the true Easter message be forgotten, a group of Roman soldiers in red cloaks were in the process of torturing a volunteer ‘Jesus’ to death on a large wooden cross. They were not in the least bit phased by a large electric train, loaded up with kids and colourful Easter Bunnies, as it roared at something less speedy than a bullet train, weaving through the crowds and baffling a couple of greyhounds which had to be restrained. There would have been carnage in the carriages had they been let loose.
For reasons which escape people who should know better Easter Weekend is probably the busiest in the year for Fremantle. So why on earth is the rail line closed? It can’t possibly help. This happens with monotonous regularity and the city, with its attendant parking problems, must feel a financial squeeze as a result. We can only conclude The Department of Transport may be few bunnies short of a full burrow.
And so it went on. It was a weekend of buskers, beer, champagne, high spirits and happy faces. The Buskers’ Festival, as it is commonly known, has become a legendary gathering spot for street artists from around the world. They love it and they help to endorse Fremantle’s reputation as the City of Festivals. The entire weekend’s entertainment was held against the backdrop of the West End’s architecture, underlining it’s value as a historical enclave. And yes, in case you were wondering, one of the stalls in Market Street was offering Fig Jam Face Packs. Yukky poo!