Reflecting on your outstanding Festival, it strikes me that you have got several things very much right. First, the size. I am sure there is a critical mass below which festivals like this won’t work. But I suspect there is also an upper limit, which has been exceeded by literary festivals in the capital cities, beyond which it is difficult to get the conversations going, both between presenters, and between presenters and guests, and between guests. The thing is simply too big.

The second factor is the relaxed atmosphere and the format which allows people to mix and mingle. Lots of discussion and interchange rather than lectures. And the very welcoming approach of the many people from your community who attended. And your superlative hospitality, in all respects.

Third, the organisation was very expert. Lots of helpers with orange scarves, who knew exactly what was happening and how to help. Superior coffee.
Thank you for a great experience.
Roly Sussex

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Burdekin Writers Festival, and I came away thrilled by the experience. It really is one of the nation’s most enjoyable festivals. The events are well organised, the topics interesting, and the crowds interested. Writers are made to feel welcome, and there is hospitality galore. It’s a privilege to be invited to one of the nation’s most productive and resilient regions, and I’d come again in a heartbeat. Also: the food! Oh my goodness, the food – the paella, the salami, the cheese, the olives, the handmade sweet treats – it’s all so good.

Regarding the larger festivals: it’s quite true that they have become hopelessly infected by politically correctness, meaning its one event after another about Donald Trump! There is only so much anyone can listen to, without wanting to scratch their own face. It’s become harder to go and have a good conversation. People are terribly worried about saying the wrong thing. And they are way too big! You don’t really get the chance to have proper conversations with people because it’s like a trade show. They invite so many guests and it all becomes a blur. The small ones are a chance to really connect with readers, and other writers, in new and inspiring settings. I think most writers now feel the big ones have lost their way.
Caroline Overington

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I am writing to express my unconditional support for the Ignite Your Mind readers and writers festival.
I have been privileged to have been invited to the previous festivals in Ayr, but the 2018 event, with its diverse program and its plethora of writers from a variety of genres, surpassed all expectations.
As a writer, I attend festivals across the country year after year, some with crowds in excess of 50,000 people.
But as far as I can see, there is nothing quite like the Burdekin festival on offer in Australia. This is an absolutely unique event. It is warm, welcoming and intimate.

This is a festival where there is genuine contact with readers. And there is a very real sense – expressed by all of the participants this year – that the crowds that attend the Burdekin festival are there because they truly want to be. They are there to properly engage with the writers and satisfy their interest in reading and writing.
This is a real readers and writers festival in every sense of the word.

For the first time this year, too, I was fortunate enough to meet and talk with people who had travelled great distances to enjoy the festival. This is tangible proof that word is getting out about the quality of the Burdekin festival, and it needs to be encouraged and supported.
I can tell you that all the invited writers were thrilled by the experience. When I tell other writers about Ignite Your Mind they invariably admit they’d love to be invited.
I would encourage the state government, local council and any other interested parties to get behind this extraordinary event.
It has built a first-class reputation. It would be a tragedy – for both readers and writers – for that to be lost.
Matthew Condon

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The regional literary festivals have long been a personal favourite, with the Burdekin Readers and Writers Festival at the top of the list.
I am grateful for council investment in intellectual and creative nourishment, which in my view is every bit as sustaining as bricks and mortar.
My sense is the Burdekin Festival has a healthy future, building on the energy and commitment of Mickey McKellar and the other good citizens who have laboured to make it work so well.
The word is getting out. Writers such as myself appreciate the experience of a more intimate connection with the reader. The big city festival patrons can in a sense be overfed and just a touch disengaged.
Townsville, Ayr, Magnetic Island and the like are attractive locations for the creative mind. The best ideas are often born at rest under a palm tree.
I wish the festival a great future and extend my thanks to all who created something special.
Chris Masters

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