Trundle ABBA Festival 2017

GOLD: A group of 50 women from Newcastle and the Central Coast headed west on the weekend, dressed spectacularly as ABBA Gold. Photo: Christine Speelman
GOLD: A group of 50 women from Newcastle and the Central Coast headed west on the weekend, dressed spectacularly as ABBA Gold. Photo: Christine Speelman

Mamma Mia, what a festival indeed!

Trundle ABBA Festival founders Gary and Ruth Crowley were pretty much running on empty on Sunday.

And it’s no wonder, since they welcomed about 6000 festival goers to the tiny town – just over 1000 more people than last year.

One by one visitors arrived by the car, bus and train load, kitted out in bell bottom pants, jumpsuits, mini skirts, platform heels, bell sleeve dresses, ponchos and sequins.

“It’s the only time I can get away with wearing a mini skirt at my age,” Parkes woman Amy Iglewski laughed.

If people weren’t in Trundle’s main street watching the Fashions of the Festival, singing and dancing to ABBA music or shopping at the markets, they were at the Trundle Hotel enjoying a beverage and the atmosphere.

“Before people get here, they’re spending weeks even months making their outfits, and they’re in this bubble of joy,” Gary said.

“Now you times that by thousands of people, it’s quite joyous – they’re bringing that fun to Trundle.”

The ABBA train – that left Parkes about 10.30am – carrying about 300 passengers, was held up by a wheat train and delayed their arrival for more than an hour.

But the festival waited – with the Fashions of the Festival competition and the ‘I do, I do’ wedding vows renewal ceremony not beginning until the train arrived.

Among the many highlights was what the festival’s organisers have named the world record attempt of the most number of people dancing to ABBA’s Dancing Queen on Trundle’s main street.

It’s something Gary said they started last year for fun and – according to photos comparing last year’s attempt with 2017’s turn out – they smashed it.

“We had 4000 last year and by looking at the photos of the crowd this year compared to last year’s photos, it goes way back down the street, we had about 6000,” he said.

“The last time people danced in Trundle’s main street was in 1983 when about 10 people were dancing when the drought broke.

“Some business owners said to me it’s been their biggest yet out of the six years, this year has trumped them all.”

Another highlight came when Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW Richard Colless – attending on behalf of Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall – announced on the main stage in Berryman Oval on Saturday night that Destination NSW will be funding $20,000 into the event to ensure it continues into the future.

For Gary, his highlight was having the Swedish Ambassador to Australia Pär Ahlberger attend.

“He was hilarious...He wanted to be involved in everything, he just loved it,” he said.

The festival concluded with headline act Bjorn Again performing at Berryman Oval in spectacular fashion before a buzzing audience.

What made this year’s performance all the more special was that it had been exactly 28 years to the day Bjorn Again performed their first show in Melbourne. 

The icing on the cake – quite literally too – was when organisers walked out on stage carrying a birthday cake Ruth had made and the crowd singing happy birthday to the tribute band.

“We were successful in making Helen (Frida) cry, they were quite taken back by it actually,” Gary said.

“They loved the cake and wrapped it up and took it with them! They said ‘we’ve got the cake on the touring bus.

“We like to create firsts, that’s what Trundle does – that’s never happened before to them (Bjorn Again).”

Gary said he would like to thank anybody who helped them out with the festival this year, from the huge tasks to the little jobs.

“And Parkes Shire Council has been enormous with this,” he said.

“It’s just a positive thing for Trundle.”