Community & Business

30 September, 2023

Festival founder steps down from the helm

A MAN who has been praised as the “founding father” of the Mareeba Multicultural Festival has stepped down from his role, leaving behind a long-lasting legacy.

Festival founder steps down from the helm - feature photo

Giuliano Cordenos had a vision for a united Mareeba, where every culture and nationality came together as a peaceful community. 

Immigrating from Italy to Mareeba as a young man, he immediately fell in love with the community and began getting involved with locals wherever he could, despite language barriers. 

So, when Mareeba Shire Council called a meeting in 1998 to form the Multicultural Festival, he was the best fit for the lead role of the committee. 

“I remember there being about 600 people that night, and I was standing on the back wall because I was only there out of curiosity,” he said. 

“The council wanted something that would celebrate Mareeba because, at that stage, they didn’t have anything.

“I still remember the CEO pointing the finger at me, and he said, ‘come here’… ‘I want to nominate you to do something for Mareeba’, and I said, ‘What am I going to do?’.

“In five minutes’ time, I had a committee of 32 people and the day after, I went to council and… we started the festival.”

The first-ever multicultural festival welcomed hundreds of people from across the region with the sounds of music, laughter and smells of traditional foods. 

The popularity of the inaugural event paved the way for 26 years of successful Mareeba Multicultural festivals, highly anticipated every August. 

Every year since, Mr Cordenos has been a part of the committee, helping lead the way for one of the most successful events in the region. 

He said his biggest highlights include when then-Minister of Multicultural Affairs and now Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visited the festival.

“She was supposed to stay for a little bit in Mareeba, but she ended up staying for four hours,” he said. 

“She said to me she had never seen a festival quite as organised and well done as this one, and she enjoyed it.”

Now enjoying his well-deserved retirement, Mr Cordenos wishes the best to the 2024 and future committees and looks forward to attending future events. 

Committee Chair Mary Graham thanked Mr Cordenos for his commitment to valuing a culturally diverse community and wished him and his wife Gina all the best for their twilight years.

“The partnerships fostered across all sectors of the community are key to the event’s longevity and testament to the importance placed on delivering positive social outcomes,” she said.

“Giuliano started this event in 1999, and on behalf of the Committee and Mareeba Shire Council, I would like to thank him once again for his commitment and hard work.”


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