Kernewek Lowender in Cornish means “Cornish Happiness”.
Kernewek Lowender Incorporated was formed in 1972, after a group of local community minded people gathered with the mission of creating a festival to celebrate and revive their region’s significant Cornish festival.
The first Cornish festival was held in 1973 and was a success due to the support of then Premier Don Dunstan who offered a grant of $1,000 to help stage it.
To the surprise and excitement of the volunteer organising committee, more than 15,000 people filled the Moonta oval for the first Fer Kernewek and a similar number went through the 18 room museum at Moonta Mines.
Local shop keepers didn’t really believe how many people would be filling their streets, pubs and churches for that first festival, and there was not sufficient flour to keep up with demand for the pasties and the local service station ran out of petrol.
There’s the story of one guest having to go to hospital with a fish bone stuck in her throat after eating star gazy pie.
But the Cornish Festival was a hit, and put the Copper Triangle on the map.
Every two years since, the Kernewek Lowender Copper Coast Cornish Festival has been held in the towns of Moonta, Wallaroo and Kadina.
The pioneering committee of 1973 could never have known they had started something so big that ensuing festivals would go on to contribute millions of dollars to the local Copper Coast economy, attract up to 50,000 people per event, provide impetus for a number of tourism developments, win numerous awards, and well and truly revive the region’s significant Cornish heritage.
Kernewek Lowender has the major support of the SA Tourism Commission and the District Council of the Copper Coast, and continues to be staged by a volunteer organising committee under Kernewek Lowender Incorporated.
The 2013 40th anniversary Kernewek Lowender Copper Coast Cornish Festival attracted an estimated 37,000 people from intrastate, interstate and overseas, and its record 43 event and 15 associated activities were a sell out.
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