'Kernewek Lowender' means 'Cornish happiness' in the Cornish language. It is held in the late autumn starting on the second Monday of May, every two years. The Kernewek Lowender claims to be the world’s largest Cornish Festival outside Cornwall.
The festival is held over seven days with the highlight being 'The Big Weekend'. 'The Big Weekend' features three large Fairs, the Village Green Fair Fer Kernewek and a Classic Cavalcade of Cars. Traditional Cornish food, such as Cornish pasties and Swanky beer is served during the Festival. Maypole performances, Furry Dancing and selection of a May Queen. The region typically hosts more than 30,000 visitors during the festival.
The Kernewek Lowender was instigated by local businessmen such as Keith Russack, and Premier Don Dunstan in the early 1970s as an initiative to boost the then economically depressed Copper Coast. The original Cornish Festival committee chose the May long weekend for the festival. Dunstan himself later recalled: "When I proposed the establishment of a Cornish Festival, in Australia's "Little Cornwall", people of Cornish descent came flocking."
The first festival went ahead in 1973 with the assistance of a A$1000 grant from the South Australian government and exceeded the organisers' expectations. The region hosted 20,000 visitors during the festival, with 11,000 attending the Fer Kernewek (Cornish Fair) in Moonta, 15,000 visiting the Moonta Mines Museum, and 8,000 Cornish pasties consumed.
Traditionally the festival culminated in a 3-day long weekend with events in each town for one day of the long weekend. However when the Adelaide Cup Day public holiday was moved, difficulties were experienced in scheduling events with only two days for the three towns, and concerns were raised over whether Wallaroo received enough focus.
Early in 2011, the ability to market Cornish pasties by that name at the festival was cast into doubt, following a trademark ruling by the European Commission. The Cornish pasty was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status and it was unclear whether the European ruling would force Australian retailers to rename their pasty products to comply.
- 2007: 14 May - 20 May
- 2009: 11 May - 17 May
- 2011: 9 May - 15 May
- 2013: 21–26 May
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