by Julian Lehnert
Marie Shaw, the new patron for Kingaroy’s annual Eisteddfod, has seen it all.
A long-time supporter of the music- and dance event as well as a powerful force in Kingaroy’s Shire Council for almost 20 years, Mrs Shaw was voted in to champion the South Burnett’s yearly eisteddfod for its 88th outing in 2022.
Mrs Shaw first found her love for the event in her childhood, singing and performing pieces on the violin on the Kingaroy Eisteddfod’s big stage, before passing the tradition on to her children.
By helping to get her daughters ready for their performances, Mrs Shaw built a true connection to the event, having now helped out at eisteddfods for over 50 years.
“My kids started in 1969, and I’m one of those parents who, if you expect your kids to be in something, you too should be involved,” she said.
“So, that’s when I started. I can’t remember what I did first, but I did just about every job there was,” she added.
In recounting her involvement with the annual performance competition, the Kingaroy Eisteddfod’s new patron remembers the event categories that came and went over the years.
“It all started off as very much a Highland dancing event,” Mrs Shaw explained.
“The things that have changed! My two daughters did Highland dancing, and of course things change and fade away while others fade in.
“That’s the way it is with the eisteddfod here now – we have no Highland dancing, not even a Highland band anymore.
“I learned how to sing, play piano and violin. Nowadays, it seems like the kids aren’t encouraged to do that anymore.
“Usually, the Kingaroy Eisteddfod used to go for around three weeks – day in, day out. Now, we’re down to just about one.
“We only have about two days of instrumentals now, and only one or two people per category.
“That’s another thing that’s changed – we used to have ten little kids per section going up there and playing their instruments or singing,” Mrs Shaw added.
However, despite the times changing and the annual event decreasing in scope, the proud volunteer could not be happier to be the eisteddfod’s patron this year.
“I’ve always supported [the eisteddfod],” she said.
“I always believed in it. To think that Brisbane has closed their eisteddfod after 110 years – that out of a population of however many thousands, they can’t get together a committee of a few people!” she added.
“I’m not afraid to go out and talk to people about the event, because I love it! I love the South Burnett – I think it’s an amazing place, and I’ve travelled the world.”