Every year Armidale folk gather at Black Gully to celebrate community, music and biodiversity.
The parklands behind New England Regional Art Museum in Armidale will host the annual Black Gully Festival on November 9. It is free and open to all ages!
But how do you describe the festival, which is now in its ninth year?
"Black Gully Festival is a true community event," is how co-coordinator Dave Carr put it.
"It was created and continues to be run by a range of community groups. Each year brings something a little different, but the core themes are music, art, environment and of course community."
The heart of the festival is live music, with performances from 10am to 10pm on three different stages.
"All of the music is by local performers and includes a wide range of musical styles - with bands, soloists and small groups," Dave said.
"The music program is presented by local community group 'The Musicians of Armidale' whose members volunteer as festival performers. This year we are mixing some of our fantastic youth performers through the program!
"Alongside the music program is a range of other activities. There really is something for everyone!"
A Makers' Market will feature local artisans with an exciting array of wares and a great variety of food stalls to feed the masses throughout the event.
"For the first time this year, the festival will feature a dance space," Dave said.
Suzie Grant from 'Bellydance Earth and Sky' is co-ordinating the Magic Carpet Dance Space which will feature local dance groups performing dances from Salsa to Balinese to Bellydance.
A highlight will be the communal rain dance that everyone can join in.
"This will be one year when we won't mind if we get washed out," Dave said.
The dance space will showcase local dancers from 11am till 1pm. Suzi said dancing on the Earth and under the sky celebrates that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
"The human body is an instrument of rhythm exploring the freedom of moving through our humanness with music. Dancing is expressing one's soul without words. Daring to dance is telling the world what's really going on," Suzi said.
"With awareness of our local environment we have, for the first time at this ninth annual event created a beautiful dance stage that will colour the festival with exciting energies and fantastic performances from our local dance artists doing traditional and contemporary styles of dancing on the 'Magic Carpet'!
Suzi said people will get to see some of Armidale's most enthusiastic and skilled children and adults pour their hearts and souls into their dance discipline.
There will be both troupe and solo performances of dancers doing Aboriginal, Ezidi, Contemporary, Salsa, Flamenco, Balinese, Saiidi Stick, Oriental Sword, Jive and more!
"We celebrate their creativity, courage and x-factor that entertains and guides the audience through the depths and subtleties of modern life!" She is also encouraging festival goers to join in the clapping thunder of the community rain dance at 6pm at the Creek Stage in the attempt to wash out the festival!
While the festival began to support live local music, it has grown to include much more.
For the first time this year, the festival will feature a 'Fixit' space, where people can bring items to be repaired or mended.
Volunteers with skills will help mend clothes, repair and maintain bikes, repair wooden items and glue things back together.
"Most things can be repaired rather than thrown away," said Sara Schmude, Black Gully Festival co-coordinator.
After the festival the 'Fixit' shop will continue to operate in a shop front in town.
The Slow Fashion tent is back and invites everyone to bring along clothes to swap for others.
"This activity is always popular and provides one of many opportunities for us to reuse, repurpose or rehome things we no longer use," Sara said.
"Many people find some great new fashion pieces!"
A Makers' Market will feature local artisans and great food.
But the heart of the festival is still live local music, with performances from 10am to 10pm on three stages.
"The depth of musical talent in our region is fantastic," said Carol Elder, on behalf of the local community group coordinating the music program 'The Musicians of Armidale'.
"The program features bands, soloists and small groups performing in a wide range of musical styles. It will be a full day of great music!"
Alongside the music program is a range of other art and creative activities.
NERAM will be open all day with great exhibitions, artist talks, workshops and poetry readings.
Exhibitions range from and include the permanent exhibition Hinton: Treasures of Australian Art featuring work by some of the most significant artists from early 20th century art in Australia; playful and challenging artworks presented as part of Experimenta Make Sense; The Black Gully Printmakers exhibition at the Museum of Printing; and the finalists in the Northern Inland Regional Waste 'Inspire Us' photography awards.
"The exhibitions are only the beginning. There is an extensive program of creative workshops, activities and opportunities to enjoy," said NERAM's May Zarb.
"I am looking forward to seeing what EcoArts Australis adds to the landscape. Artists will be weaving willow shelters and sculptures on site - providing some ephemeral usable public art!"
Black Gully Printmakers will be on hand at the Museum of Printing to offer keen visitors a chance to try different types of printing themselves.
There will be displays by groups/organisations including Armidale Tree Group, Southern New England Landcare, Sustainable Living Armidale, Armidale Regional Council and an exhibition of Northern Inland Regional Waste 'Inspire Us' photography award finalists.
"A program of sustainability-themed films will screen throughout the day and EcoArts Australis will be weaving willow shelters and sculptures on site for us to use and enjoy," Sara said.
Meanwhile, Circus Confabularium will give festival goers a chance to learn to juggle, hoola hoop and balance!
"(It) will be there to keep the kids busy learning to juggle, hoola hoop and balance and will have their Paper Moon photo booth operating," Dave said.
"The Black Gully Festival is a community-driven event, so you never know what other activities and events are likely to pop up on the day!"