Festival goes virtual

Kate Withers and Hayley Mills

Spring has sprung and the native flora is blooming, meaning the world-renowned Morwell International Rose Garden Festival is just around the corner.

Despite a change to the usual festival format this November, Latrobe City Mayor Dan Clancey said rose enthusiasts were still in for a treat in 2020.

“The Morwell International Rose Garden Festival is a very, very exciting event but because of the pandemic across the entire world we are unable to run it like we have in the past,” Mr Clancey said.

“But we are going to run it and it’ll be done in a hybrid virtual sense, which will be great for people all across the globe to be able to join in and participate in this event here in Latrobe City.

“It’s a great system because on the website you register and you come along and you participate in stalls, do the virtual talks, participate in workshops, you can do everything you would normally do if you were present in the rose garden.

“It’s great for rose enthusiasts to be able to participate in the workshops and attend, they love coming along and looking at the practical workshops they can do to keep their rose gardens beautiful.”

Online, visitors will be able to navigate a map of the Morwell Centenary Rose Garden and click on events and activities of interest.

Workshops, music, children’s entertainment, stalls and garden talks will be run online as free, interactive events.

People will be able to comment, ask questions, and take part in polls, workshops and masterclasses all from the comfort of their homes – and even buy goods from stallholders as though they were there.

The festival will showcase Gippsland food and wine producers and local musicians, and festival organisers will soon be announcing this year’s special guests.

Morwell Centenary Rose Garden Friends of the Garden chair Del Matthews said volunteers worked overtime every year to ensure their pride and joy was in “tip-top shape”.

“So many people have come to see the garden and it’s really given us great pride and it’s involved quite a lot of work,” Ms Matthews said.

“We worked every Monday and every Tuesday and the roses have all been pruned … all the roses will be out in their full glory.

“It’s a community garden and it’s run by volunteers with support from the council and the garden team, but it’s very much not only a lovely showpiece, because it has been awarded the World Federation of Rose Societies garden of excellence.

“When that was given to us in 2009 we were only the second garden in Australia to get that award, so that was a big moment of pride for us.”

The AGL Mid-summer Night Lights Installation in the Morwell Centenary Rose Garden returns by popular demand on the Saturday and Sunday evening.

AGL Loy Yang senior manager stakeholder engagement Renee Kurowski said the light installation was a “really great interactive experience for families.

“This year it’s going to be a little bit different, it’ll be in a different section of the rose garden and it’ll be fantastic for people to be able to drive past and see something really different, a different perspective of the garden,” Ms Kurowski said.

The festival will be viewable on a phone, tablet or computer via the festival website www.irgfm.com.au.

Participation is free but people must register on the festival website beforehand.

The first 100 Australian residents to register will receive a festival showbag packed with goodies from local suppliers.

For more information, visit irgfm.com.au