Busker & Open Mic - start practicing!

What happened in 2022…

“Gabriel Strahan ultimately took home the Bendigo Bank cash prize in the open mic contest.  His name will is on the perpetual trophy that lives in the Royal Oak Beer Garden.  Gabe’s name is the 13th inscribed in immortality! (The first PCAF open mic was in 2009 – see photo of trophy to see previous winners.)


The open mic and buskers fill the same space in the art festival program, with nearly all contestants busking in Church street on either Saturday or Sunday leading up to the open mic stage being set up.  The peoples choice busker cash prize went to a duo – Hunter and Scout.  The pair, regulars on the open mic circuit, played old favourites on guitar and mandolin on both days. 


 “guess if you play the longest you get the most votes..” says modest Deni.  Deni & Jeff (Hunter & Scout) also signed up for a spot in the open mic.  QR code Vox-Pop  was used for the first time this year.


The open mic stage had 11 performers put their names down.  The 2 junior entries performed admirably in the conditions and were in tune with great vocal projection.


The main 9 contenders had a 15-minute spot, that included pack-up-pack-down.  Guy Detot (Trophy maker), Kat Searcey (Secretary of the PCAF committee) and Ulrich Grey-Smith (compare) listened, wrote notes and ranked the performances based on musicality, technique, stage confidence, originality & audience applause. After much deliberation five performances were reviewed as contenders to get their names on the trophy…


In no particular order, can you guess who they were?


Nathanial Z – guitar-vocal-original song – covers

Emma Stokes – guitar-vocals-original song – covers

Cathy Heyn – poet troubadour style – original

Gabriel Strahan – keys-guitar-percussion-vocals (not all at the same time)

Anne Frazer – guitar-vocals-original songs

Tracey Allen – guitar-vocals-original song – covers

Rob McDonald – guitar-vocals-covers

Leigh Miller – guitar-vocals-original song – covers

Hunter & Scout – guitar duo-vocals-covers.


Kiahna Little (Junior)

Alida Brokken (Junior)


Each of these artists braved the autumn weather and made the stage come alive!   A big thank you to you all. 



Ulrich Grey-Smith – 

Organiser Warm-up guy, (solo voice – saxophone – poet – an acknowledgement of county)


$250 CASH PRIZE for the popular winner.  Public Voting by QR code.  Winner announced at end of open mic competition.  5.30pm -ish.


Open Mic winner decided by judges – $250 CASH PRIZE to winner.  Pub Venue TBC – starts 3pm.

In 2023, you can…
Be a busker in the streets of Penola. Perform and entertain for fun, put out your hat and collect peoples choice votes, we will give you a QR code.
Saturday 14th May Sunday May 15 as part of our festival – bookings essential.  
Looking for
  • Poets
  • Soloists
  • Duets
  • Music Troops
  • Circus style
  • Concert Bands 
  • Community Choir
Find your spot to perform on the registration form.
Return Manual Entry forms to the Penola Visitors Centre, Bowdon Street, with $10 cash per registration.  


Or Submit online with TryBooking


  • Busking spot on the Streets of Penola, pick your spot from 9am.
  • Open Mic Competition, 3pm – 6pm Royal Oak Hotel Wine Garden.  (Registrations open on 20th May, with preference to buskers)


  • Saturday 20th May and Sunday 21st May, 9am til late


REGISTRATIONS: Manual or scan-to-email $10 & pick your spot on the map.

QUESTIONS?         Email 

or call Ulrich on 0429 499 355.

Bring along your mob – explore the streets – vote for your favourite buskers – stay for the open mic – grab a bite to eat in Church Street.

Proudly brought to you by Grey-Smith Wines and Royal Oak Hotel.

Get amongst the vibe of the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival!