The Birth of Easter in the Country

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It’s been said in poems, bush ballards and across the so called sleepy plains in the bush and the outback, “all of us and God, help those that help themselves.”

Roma’s now famous 39 year old street event, Easter in the Country is a testament to that sentiment.

For it began as a program to see the community help itself and have a bit of fun along the way, so says Jenny Flynn, a member of the organising committee.

“The thing at that point in time, and it still is, the vision that this will be a festival at a fun time for families that will provide some economic benefits for the town and put Roma on the map,” she says.

Noel Miller, a larger than life local, committee member of the Wattles Football Club needed to raise funds for a new clubhouse and decided the best way to do that was through a community event.

So one Sunday afternoon in 1976 after a game he stood up on a bar stool and announced that the following Easter there would be a country music festival and rodeo, beginning a new tradition.

Of course to make the festival work, he had to change some established habits which saw Roma fairly quiet over Easter.

“Roma would empty out and everyone would come to the coast, I was there one Easter… and it was so quiet you could have literally done the old saying fired a gun down the main street and never hit anyone,” he says.

“I just thought we have got to do something to bring people back here over Easter and I had always had the idea of putting on a country and western festival in Roma and Easter in the Country was born.”

While the festival itself has changed since Mr Miller stepped aside 23 years ago, he is happy to see that the rodeo has remained as a feature of it.

Having stepped aside from the organising role, he took the approach to let it grow on its own, free from any of his lingering influence and is glad to see it surviving.

Putting on the festival every year still encapsulates the roll up the sleeves attitude and spirit of the community that defines the region and this year will be no different.

But as people gather at Bassett Park over the Easter weekend this year, the role of Noel Miller must be remembered.

“It’s about that community development focus, he had that vision for the town as a local and it started, and in various ways continued,” Ms Flynn says.

With the festival coming up soon, accommodation for the expected 8,000-10,000 visitors to Maranoa will fill up quickly so it is important to book tickets for events as soon as possible.