Eisteddfod’s have a long history in Mackay dating back before the World Wars, however we count the post war 1947 Mackay Eisteddfod as our ‘official’ starting point. The 1947 Eisteddfod was a pretty modest affair compared to today, with only four sessions comprising forty sections and 192 competitors – and a mighty 6p entry fee! Today we have grown to over 750 sections, with 116 sessions and 1775 competitors. Our link with our history is not just long, but is also living as our Vice Patron and Life Member Norma Shuttlewood competed at the first Eisteddfod and still graces us with her knowledge and enthusiasm today.
The Eisteddfod has grown with Mackay, and has had multiple homes over the years. The first event was held at the Parish Hall, and as we grew we moved to the Olympic Theatre, the Presbyterian Hall, St Pauls Hall and the Theatre Royal in 1987. The Theatre Royal cost a very reasonable $75 per day to hire, however we were unable to continue to hold the Eisteddfod there in 1988 and the committee faced a move to the newly constructed Mackay Entertainment Centre. With a price jump in venue hire to $650 per day there were serious fears the Eisteddfod could not continue, however when a vote was held the Eisteddfod was spared – by only one vote!
Thankfully the funding fears have proven to be unfounded and with the generous support of our community, our sponsors and most importantly our volunteers we are able to present almost three weeks of events in October allowing individuals and schools the opportunity to compete in dance, music, singing and speech and drama. Winning events at the Eisteddfod is an excellent launching pad for young performers hoping to carve out a career in the Arts and we have helped pave the way for many talented locals to artistic prominence. Our committee consists of 26 Members and Life Members and we would be unable to deliver our community such an outstanding event every year without the unflagging assistance of our loyal volunteers.