Our 2016 festival was a wonderful weekend, as we made good on our promise to have books take over the town! Here are some of the highlights, captured by our festival photographer Amber Hooper.

The gorgeous Art for Poetry’s Sake exhibition, where a number of talented artists from across the region offered their interpretation of contemporary Australian poetry, was officially opened by Arts Minister Troy Grant and featured the work of: Charles Smith, Toni Behrens, Warwick BehrensMargot Stephens, Sam Paine, Ruth Gobbitt, Chester Nealie, Kay Norton-Knight, Nigel White, Chris Stephens, Denise Faulkner and Rachel Melchers. We are extremely grateful to this talented group of artists – and to exhibition curator Sam Paine – for bringing our vision for art and poetry to life for the festival. 

In 2016 the MRF Book Club expanded to three different events held upstairs at Eltons Food + Drink: discussions about Fiona Wright's award-winning Small Acts of Disappearance and The Horseman by Charlotte Nash, and a special MRF Book Club on Next Level Reading, featuring Geordie Williamson and Alice Grundy discussing what makes a good reader. 

Discussions with some of our favourite authors took place at the Stables and the Town Hall Theatre throughout the weekend and included: Kate Forsyth and Suzanne Leal taking A Wander Through The Beast’s Garden; Candice Fox and Jenn J McLeod discussing Murder, Menace and Madness; Rod Jones, Kate Forsyth and David Dyer in Past Tense: Compelling Historical Fiction with Sharelle Fellows; Sami Shah and Michael Bourke in From Karachi to Kangaroos; Charlotte Wood, Fiona Wright, Emily Maguire and Ellen van Neerven, with Geordie Williamson, in The Stella Session; and Adventures in the Outback with Candice Fox, Sami Shah, Evan McHugh, James Knight and Wayne Eade. 

In Poets Aloud, the poets who had work featured in Art for Poetry's Sake responded with readings of their own work.  Ellen van Neerven, Fiona Wright, Alison Whittaker, Luke Carman and Jorie Ryan, offered powerful and entertaining readings in an event hosted by Geordie Williamson. This lunchtime event was followed by a robust discussion of the Australian poetry landscape; hosted by Luke Carman.

In Henry, Banjo and a Beer with James Knight, an enthusiastic audience got to sample some Mudgee Brewing Co beer while biographer James Knight talked to local legend Michael Bourke about his latest book
James Knight has written about sporting icons, everyday heroes, and international adventurers. His latest biography Henry and Banjo takes a fresh look at the fascinating lives of two men – Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson – whose writing helped shape the nation.

At Sunday Story-time, performers David Burton and Sam Paine – along with the Mudgee Youth Theatre – presented a storytelling extravaganza that delighted their young audience. And Mudgee’s own picture book Tractor Trip to Town was on hand to provide colouring sheets!