The Doust Files – Albany Advertiser 6/12/2011

Sorry, it’s a bit late this one. too much on my mind. Too much to do. Enjoy your festive season.

As always at this time of the year you will find me in Manjimup working on the Cherry Harmony Festival.
It’s not easy, eating plump ripe cherries for a solid week. You have to train yourself, take a couple here and a couple there, then, finally, plunge headlong, mouth open.
 What’s it all about, people often ask, assuming that it’s about cherries? Nothing is all about cherries, not even a cherry festival. But it is all about food and the ability of this rich and fertile south western corner to provide an abundance of delicacies for those who live in the northern wastelands.
It started 10 years ago when Manjimup was in the grip of despair following the dismantling of the timber industry. A couple of local groups and Paul Omodei, ex-MLA for the region, decided to hold a public meeting.
What a day it was and all day I spruiked: “What this town needs is a cherry festival!” and all day tired old men came up to me and said: “You’re an idiot.”
Then, when all seemed lost, four women stormed my personal space and yelled: “You’re right. You’re a genius! We’re having a cherry festival.”
I shook their hands, congratulated them and wished them well. They refused to let me go and said: “You don’t get out of it that easy, matey. You are on the committee, you’re part of the team, stacking chairs, consoling lost children and calling the Australasian Cherry Pip Spitting Championships.”
This year is the 10th, all in a row, and each year bigger and better than the previous and even though a number of festivals have threatened to be cherryless, they always magically appear, ripe and plump enough to send folk away in much the same condition.

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