The snowstorm of paperwork that follows the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival (invoices, accounts, reports and feedback) has begun to clear a little and we are all very happy with the results. Numbers were as strong, or better than previous festivals, the volunteer force was out in strength, the weather was kind to us and once again, we had a fantastic display of beautiful wooden craft of all shapes and sizes. Early data analysis reveals that our audience from Tasmania (48%) was narrowly outweighed by interstate/overseas visitors (52%), demonstrating the growing national and international reputation of this uniquely Tasmanian celebration. Our sponsors, in government and the corporate sector, were open-handed in their support and our exhibitors and traders made an equally important contribution. In all, the MyState Bank Australian Wooden Boat Festival enjoys truly remarkable enthusiasm from across the whole community, and that’s just the way we like it. This large, noisy, colourful and exciting festival of wooden boats really is produced by the people who live here, with a little help from our overseas friends. Keeping it free to the public means that it is inclusive and accessible to everyone who wants to enjoy it.
We are very grateful to many people, but there has to be a special mention of the extraordinary lengths our American cousins went to, once we sent out the invitation to join us in 2019. From the time we visited the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival in 2017, the determination and commitment grew with each succeeding month. Boats were prepared and packed on the East Coast and the West Coast of the US. Travel plans were made, accommodation booked, tour groups organised. We exchanged site plans and publicity materials, nominated speakers, suggested new content and generally got more and more excited as the festival grew closer. People like Susan St John, from the Apprenticeshop in Rockland, Maine and Betsy Davis from the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Townsend made elaborate plans to get to Hobart with their boats and crew, halfway around the world. A team of enthusiastic boat builders from the US arrived ten weeks before the festival to start work at the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin. Long-time AWBF supporter Kaci Cronkhite wrangled speakers and journalists and boats on our behalf in the US, while the Australian National Maritime Museum ramped up its contribution to the International Wooden Boat Symposium, which featured many notable speakers including the founder of WoodenBoat Magazine, Jon Wilson.