Save the date for inclusive pop culture Country Kids Festival in Moree

Pirate kid (aka Tom Phillips) is excited for the Country Kids Festival, to be held at Moree Civic Precinct in September next year.
Pirate kid (aka Tom Phillips) is excited for the Country Kids Festival, to be held at Moree Civic Precinct in September next year.

The region's first inclusive pop culture festival for children and families is currently being planned for Moree next year.

The Country Kids Festival is the idea of Moree dad Byron Phillips, who has combined his passion for pop culture and background in theatre, film and cosplay with his work as a disability advocate, to create a child-friendly cultural arts event aimed at bringing families together and increasing their sense of belonging in the region.

"It's about bringing the community together but also linking up all child-related activities in town," Mr Phillips said.

"What can kids do outside school hours?

Country Kids Festival founder Byron Phillips has a lot of connections in the cosplay community, many of whom will be coming to Moree for the inaugural festival.

Country Kids Festival founder Byron Phillips has a lot of connections in the cosplay community, many of whom will be coming to Moree for the inaugural festival.

"It's a good chance for different sports and arts-based groups to promote what they do. That's how it started, and I thought I'd bring in entertainment to make it fun and exciting with cosplay and performances."

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Set for September 5, 2020 the festival will see Moree's Civic Precinct become kids' central, with something for every kid and big kid.

The street will be closed outside the Civic Precinct along the lower part of Balo Street, with child-focussed groups and services to set up information stalls showcasing what it means to be a kid in the country.

There will also be roving street performers and professional cosplayers in attendance, providing children (and big kids) the opportunity to get photos with some of their favourite pop culture characters including Captain America and friends, Batman and friends, Star Wars characters and more.

There will be performances happening on stage in the Banquet Hall throughout the day, including the Wizard of Oz Interactive Show, Larrikin Puppets and local performances.

The Library will be transformed into Wizard School with wand-making and magic.

There will also be cosplay building workshops and animation and drawing workshops, as well as a fairy garden area, dinosaur petting zoo, mobile gaming truck and Jurassic Jeeps on show.

And these are just the activities locked in for now.

"It's all about fandom and pop culture for kids and what they can enjoy together," Mr Phillips said.

"All ages will be catered for from babies to young adult in a supportive, safe and entertaining environment."

Mr Phillips also hopes to include local businesses and has an idea for adventure passports for children to get stamped at shops in the CBD.

To be held on the Saturday of the Father's Day weekend, with the Moree Markets and Moree Motor Trade Expo on the Sunday, Mr Phillips hopes the festival will be a tourist drawcard for families from throughout the region.

"Kids inland don't get to experience pop culture events, which are usually held on coastal areas, so this will allow country children to experience the excitement of a pop culture festival they wouldn't normally be able to attend due to distance, regional isolation and the drought," he said.

"The Country Kids Festival is a huge opportunity to positively boster wellbeing in rural communities and the families within it, and inspire the minds of our next generation in country NSW.

"Other benefits of the festival include showcasing children's services and activities with our region and encourage participation, fostering positive relationships between members of the community and inspiring supportive community social inclusion for children with disabilities and families."

The festival will raise money for services or equipment to benefit children with disabilities in the Moree community, continuing the theme of inclusive fun.

Mr Phillips is currently working on securing funding to make this festival happen and is applying for the NSW Government's Community Projects grant, which requires people to vote, and other festival grants.

For more information, go to the Country Kids Festival Moree Facebook page.