In the early years of the 20th century, musical festivals were very much in vogue. One such festival had been successfully held in Taree in 19121 and this led to the formation, in May 1913, of the Taree River Musical Society with the aim of holding musical, literary and physical culture competitions on a regular annual or biennial basis.2
The first of these comprehensive festivals, Taree’s first Eisteddfod, was planned for November 1913 with a total of £200 prize money on offer.3 An enthusiastic committee set about fundraising and sourcing suitable accommodation for the many visitors expected over the three days of competition.
Most events were to take place in the Belmore Hall, with the Bands and calisthenics displays to be performed at the Showground.4
The Eisteddfod commenced on Thursday 13 November and included a dinner for the committee and invited guests on Friday evening at Mr Baker’s Refreshment Room5 with final events being held on Saturday.
Notwithstanding strong local entries, some of the most successful competitors came from further afield. Miss Elsie Una Roberts a pianist from Drummoyne, was a star of the show,6 as were choirs from Kurri Kurri and Leichhardt Boys School.7
The Eisteddfod was pronounced a musical and financial success and set the stage for this tradition to continue into the 21st century.
Author: Penny Teerman
1 Maitland Daily Mercury Monday 5 May 1913 P5
2 Manning River Times Wednesday 7 May 1913 P3
3 Manning River Times Wednesday 11 June 1913 P2
4 Manning River Times Wednesday 6 August 1913 P5
5 Manning River Times Wednesday 22 November 1913 P5
6 Australian Town and Country Journal Wednesday 10 December 1913 P40
7 Maitland Daily Mercury Tuesday 18 November 1913 P6