With an attitude for gratitude, it’s no wonder Wayne Thompson has been the grand marshal of every Childers Festival since its inception 26 years ago.
Wayne, with the help of his wife Robyne, ensures the community festival that stops the Bruce Highway each year is not only memorable, but runs smoothly.
Putting his hand up to help the community more than two decades ago, Wayne said he never thought becoming Childers Festival grand marshal would give him so much joy.
“I tried to give it away and asked to be replaced four years ago, but I guess there’s passion there for it as I am still here,” he said.
“There’s a lot that goes in to closing the highway; it can be a big challenge to get the 300 to 400 stall holders in in just two hours before the day starts.
“We wait until 5.30am, close the highway, and we have until 7.30am to get them all set up before we have fun all day, then reverse it all in the afternoon and do it all over again in the opposite order.
“It’s part and parcel of it all – I’m local born and bred and there’s no substitute to helping your community.”
Now 25 Childers Festivals later, Mayor Jack Dempsey congratulated Wayne for his hard work and dedication in ensuring the community event went to plan each time and presented him with a gift to say thank you from the whole community.
Generations of family history in Childers
Wayne’s ties to the Childers community goes back four generations, as his great grandfather was one of the founding members of the Isis Masonic Lodge – one of the oldest buildings in area.
“We have 120 years of unbroken Masonic membership, and I guess that’s where community spirit started,” he said.
“I guess we don’t worry about what we do in the community, we know a good community has generosity, even if it’s just giving time.
“I remember the first Childers Festival with Nancy Calder, it started as just six stalls in front of the Palace Hotel.
“I put my hand up to help, and now I trouble-shoot all day.”
Wayne said he wouldn’t be able to play the role of Childers Festival grand marshal without the support of his righthand woman.
“It’s not a lot to contribute your time one day a year,” he said.
“But behind every productive man is a twice as productive woman, Robby is a darling that’s for sure – she is one in a million and I couldn’t do this without her.”