A night at the Cudgen Leagues Club was not what I had planned for my Saturday. Alas, a last minute call from my editor advising me of a venue change had my little car hurtling down the M1 toward the little streets of Kingscliff for the 3rd annual Pig Day Out.
After the regulatory leagues club sign in, I headed upstairs to a room that reminded me of a few ‘how-ya-goin’ wedding receptions I attended in rural Victoria. What I was greeted with was not stale conversation and tacky centerpieces, but a room buzzing with ideas, laughs and energy that you could almost see.
Where a bored second-cousin-once-removed might be yawning at an old aunt’s speech, here sat a 60-year old man drinking a light beer with his wife, who was talking with the man next to her, a gent no older than 25 who was clad in tie-die and yoga pants, who had his daughter running around their feet laughing.
The same diversity was found at every table that filled the humble space.
What is this place? Who are these people and how do they know each other? More so, how are they all listening to this lass* from Sea Shepherd on stage with such intent? Have I just stepped into a parallel universe where people aren’t estranged by generation and they care about the earth’s wellbeing?
The namesake of its birthplace Pigabeen, PDO is a grassroots creative festival and the baby of 27-year old Joel Colombo.
5-days of non-stop rain had Joel banging on Cudgen League’s Club at 9.30am begging for their help in saving his baby from death-by-flood. In true story-book fashion they agreed.
Capped at 300 patrons, PDO promotes local bands, creative artists and the congregation of humans. At the ripe, almost green age of 27, Joel has curated a local festival with loyal punters and a stellar line-up to boot.
With a little luck and a lot of guts Joel secured Jebediah legend Bob Evans as a headliner after hassling him post-gig at the signing table. He was joined by Aquila Young, The Orchard, Lane-Harry x Ike Campbell, Clashing Colours, Double Lined Minority, Jake Fox, Jackson James Smith and Jake Fox.
“I started Pig Day Out because so many artists don’t ‘make-it’.. What does make it mean anyway. PDO is an opportunity to get the talented and underrated artists out and amongst their community. PDO veteran Sean Smith of Tweed has brought his wife and kids to PDO all three years, and like most attendees knew Joel through his dad, workplace, and Joel’s involvement with the community.
“Last year [on Joel’s farm] the kids were burning marshmallows by the fire and dancing around the main stage as we sat on hay bales and listened to some grassroots into the night”.
“We’ll go again for sure, Joel knows how to get a good variety.”
Next year’s PDO is going public. Joel has bigger fish (people) to fry (invite).
“Pig Day Out is an event everyone comes to feel positive and hone into the sense of community”, he said. “I want to get more people involved and inspire everyone to create, inform and spread the movement.”
To join me on a hay bale in Pigabeen next year or learn about the PDO movement, visit pigdayout.net
*The lass who held the crowd’s attention was Nicole McLaughlin of Sea Shepherd, a young activist who Nicole discussed federal government policies enabling animal violation and empowered the patrons to take the Sea Shepard movement into their own hands through increasing awareness and conversation on sustainable treatment of wildlife and the environment.
“If the ocean dies, we die.”
To learn more about Sea Shepard visit seashepherd.org.au