Saturday, 22 March 2014

An Impressive Artwork That Drove A Great Event in 2010

Four years have just passed since Diggers Rest's largest celebrations and its worth noting a special person who turned the event into a success.

It took the dedication and friendship of one man to create enough excitement for a major event in 2010.

100 years of Australian powered flight may have gone unnoticed if nothing changed. By 2009, the Melton Council and the Lions Club of Diggers Rest knew that a significant milestone in Australia's history was to unfold. In March 2010, Australia would celebrate 100 years since Harry Houdini flew at Diggers Rest.

However, there was not enough enthusiasmto make it any more than a minor activity.

The Lions Club knew that Steve Samagalski had talents that, if applied, might make a huge difference. The Lions Club asked Steve to design the roadside billboard to mark the event.

Steve, an IT manager, was uncertain about his abilities - he had never been asked to create artwork in his entire life. However, he was a true friend and a great community citizen and so he agreed to help out.

Once Steve began to draw, he could not be stopped. His wife, Sue, and children lost their husband and father while he worked late into nights to complete the artwork. The preparation of the 6x2-metre billboard involved about 40 hours of work, and took about six weeks to complete.

"The expectations of the billboard were on a scale far larger than anything I had created before," Steve said. "I presented the design to the Lions club in August 2009 and it was enthusiastically received."

Steve said it was great to be able to be a part of such a proud moment in history. "Houdini's flights in his Voisin biplane 18 March 1910, are recognized as the first officially recorded powered aeroplane flights in Australia," he said.

The roadside billboard had gone up near the entrance to Diggers Rest, Australia, marking the beginning of the biggest celebrations in a lifetime at Diggers Rest. The sign worked so well that the Council, Lions Club and other community groups banded together for a massive celebration commemorating Houdini’s first flight on our continent 100 years ago. The Houdini celebrations went for three days: 18, 20 and 21 March 2010, including a special ceremony, a Houdini-Centenary air-show, magic performances, a one-third scale model of Houdini’s Voisin.

Steve's work meant a lot to: our town, region, country and was even recognised internationally. He never made a fuss and, when it was all over, we packed up the billboard sign for Steve to keep forever.

Thank you Steve Samagalski - my friend.

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