The Open Day held at the Female Factory on Mother’s Day (8 May) 2016 was a huge success taking us somewhat by surprise by the number of people who turned up. With almost 600 people coming through the gates it was our busiest day ever. Holding it on Mother’s Day proved very popular with family groups who had obviously brought their mothers and grandmothers to the event as a way of spending Mother’s Day with them.
The day started with a short performance by the Cornish’s who presented a vignette from “Her Story”. The piece chosen was a very powerful scene from the drama in which Mary is in the crime class picking oakum. It works very well with audiences as they are required to be involved, being placed into cells in crime class to help Mary with the oakum picking in order to save her from the cruel punishment inflicted by the overseer.
Displays by the Female Convict Research Centre, Friends of the Orphan School and the Fellowship of First Fleeters were greeted with interest by all who attended with each group receiving many inquiries which will hopefully translate into increased membership. We were also very fortunate to have the Tasmanian Weavers and Spinners Guild attend and demonstrate their equipment and skill at using it. They were hugely popular and a real bonus to have them participate in the day. We were equally fortunate to have Dr. Christina Henri in the Matron’s Quarters showing a number of bonnets to people and discussing the “Roses from the Heart” project. Assisting Christina in the Matron’s Quarters was the Matron herself who mingled with the visitors answering their questions and having her photo taken with them.
There were a number of activities offered to children which were very popular. Peg doll making was a great success with demand almost exceeding our ability to supply the children with the peg doll kits and assistance to make them. Almost every child on site was seen wandering around with the peg doll they had made in their hands, comparing with others! There was also a scavenger hunt where children were given a list of clues and questions that they had to answer. On successful completion of the hunt they were given a badge and a stamp.
Everyone worked incredibly hard on the day to make it a huge success, and we’re putting on the calendar as an annual event.