There was no horsing around when it came to judging the inaugural Scone Horse Festival - NEIGHbour Art Competition.
It was an idea founded by Scone Horse Festival Committee Member, former teacher and Scone local, Phil McGuirk, to help make up for no festival street parade on this year as well as a fresh approach to the window-dressing competition previously held during the festival.
Phil McGuirk attended a Scone Chamber of Commerce Board Meeting with a couple of wooden cut-out horses and pitched the horse art idea to see if he could get some support. The Chamber were happy to help out – but weren’t at all prepared for how well the uptake would be.
“Phil only had enough timber ready for 50 horses so we all had our fingers crossed that we could get enough interest in the idea,” said Sarah English, the Business Development Officer at the Scone Chamber.
“No one could have foreseen the overwhelming response, with more than 200 wooden horse cut-outs sold over two weeks, decorated and displayed throughout Scone. It just went crazy! It was very exciting and so lovely to see the community spirit of Scone take over.”
“It was fabulous! The community just took it and ran. Our woodworkers at Scone Hardware could hardly keep up with he demand and we had to cut it off at 200. I imagine next year will be even bigger,” said Phil McGuirk.
With Phil’s background in education, as well as Sarah English, being the Director at the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre for most of 2020, it made it an easy choice for who could help with judging. The team also asked Arts Upper Hunter for a volunteer with Carolyn O’Brien, Acting Executive Director, putting her hand up.
Business category judging was based on three main criteria: Artistic Skill, Creativity & Originality as well as Local Connection while school category (schools, daycares, preschools) was based on the signs of Whole School Involvement, School Connection and School Message.
The winner in the Business Category Winner is 'Chocolate and Moss' and the School Category Winner was St Mary's Primary School.
“The Chamber could not have foreseen the huge response and overwhelming success of the NEIGHbour-Art Initiative. Next year we will be ready and have processes in place to make it easy to purchase horses, as well as have prizes and judging criteria outlined etc,” said Sarah English.
The Chamber, Scone Horse Festival and Phil would like to thank all who helped and got involved with the initiative.
Image credit: Scone Chamber