HISTORY OF THE YARRAM EISTEDDFOD


In 1933, Mr. Ridley Griffiths, Principal of the Mount Best Primary School, decided to run speech competitions within the school. He engaged an independent adjudicator and these ran for several years. In that time it grew so popular that the competitions expanded to incorporate singing, music and instrumental work. It was moved to Toora and became known as the 'South Gippsland Music and Speech Festival'.
World War 2 broke out and it went into recession until the early 1950's. It continued at Toora until 1959, when a fire broke out in the hall where the competitions were held. As a result, the committee approached Yarram for the use of the Strand Hall whilst their own was being rebuilt. Problems arose in Toora and the festival was passed over to Yarram, so a new committee was formed. This was in 1960. In 1961 it was the first Yarram Eisteddfod in its own right, although it retained the name of the 'South Gippsland Music and Speech Festival'. The Strand Hall was eventually demolished and for the following 2 years it was held at the Yarram High School, and then transferred to the Regent Theatre, where it has been held ever since.
In the 1970's, it was renamed The South Gippsland Eisteddfod - Yarram', and held this title until Shire amalgamations in 1994, when it became The Yarram Eisteddfod Inc.' to avoid confusion with the South Gippsland Shire of which we are no longer a part.
It has, in its time, seen many young students go on to successful careers after their talents were brought out by exposure to these competitions. This unique Eisteddfod stands as a very proud organisation within this community, and it is interesting to note that Mrs. Belle Fanner from Melbourne, who has adjudicated at Yarram for many years has chosen The Yarram Eisteddfod' as a case study for her thesis in her Masters Degree - we see this as a wonderful compliment to our local Eisteddfod.
Some years ago Mr. Ridley Griffiths was in this area and was thrilled to know that the Eisteddfod was still going strong. He contacted Secretary Judith Summers where he wrote of his joy at the continuation of competitions which had its origins at Mount Best so many years before. Mr. Ridley Griffiths stayed in contact with the Yarram Eisteddfod for many years, following its progress with interest.