Every two years the Wairarapa region hosts a writers and readers festival with the suitably rural title of ‘Yarns in Barns’. Most of the events are held in libraries, shops and halls, but each festival features one occasion whern yards are literally told in a barn – or to be more exact, in an old wool shed. Jamie and Marilyn Strang allow festival goers t congregate in the shed on the ‘Glenside’ property at Gladstone, and each festival a crowd gathers to be fed hot chocolate and and tales tall and true – although not always both.
The Wairarapa Archive has played a strong role in the special event, with staff taking part for the last four festivals, but this year two staff members were part of the afternoon. District Archivist Gareth Winter chaired a panel of authors who have written recently on aspects of war history. Jo Elworthy’s spoke of her father’s memoir, ‘Greece, Crete, Stalag , Dachau’ which was recently published, while Glyn Harper, Professor of War Studies at Massey University, read amusing tales from soldiers’ letters.
Philippa Werry was also on the panel, and spoke out her work on some children’s books relating to World War One, one on the significance of Anzac Day, the other the story of three young men who went off to war together.
The panel was rounded off by Neil Frances, the Wairarapa Archive’s resident military historian, who spoke on some of the lighter aspects of his work on Featherston Military Training Camp, including the response of some of the recruits to the amount of swearing their fellow soldiers indulged in.