CENTRE OF ATTENTION: The bulls lapping up the attention at Beef Week Saturday in Casino.
CENTRE OF ATTENTION: The bulls lapping up the attention at Beef Week Saturday in Casino. Hamish Broome

Top 15: Is this the area's biggest weekend of the year?

THE next seven days look lke they could be the busiest of the year on the Northern Rivers interms of community activities.

Check out our Top 15 list for this week (a top ten list was not enough) and start planning:

1. Beef Week 2017: This is a ten-day ceelberation of all things 'meaty'. The beefed-up celebration is about all the things meatvore. This is the largest conglomeration of bovine ehtusiasts in the Soutehrnm Hemisfere. From a free butcher's breakfast in Casino to Beef Meets Reef this weekend in Evans Head, including the Beef Week Queen and Mr Beef, plus the Northern Star Celebration of Fashion. From this Saturday in a number of venues around Casino and Evans Head. For details visit casinobeefweek.com.au.

2. Portraits: Margaret Olley: "Because I have a face like a pudding and it's easy to draw." This was Margaret Olley's humorous response, when asked by friend and biographer Christine France, why, in her opinion, she was such a popular portrait subject for fellow artists. Margaret Olley remains the most painted face in Australian art history. As a fledgling artist at the age of 25, Olley sat for friend and fellow artist William Dobell. His portrait Margaret Olley 1948 won the Archibald Prize, hurtling a shy Olley into a media frenzy. More than six decades later, Olley was again the subject of an Archibald Prize winning portrait by Ben Quilty, Margaret Olley 2011. Olley's remarkable artistic career is bookended by these iconic portraits. This outstanding exhibition of portraits of Olley by her artist friends, and self-portraits, is an exploration of Olley's extraordinary life, spirited character and her enduring friendships with some of the most significant figures in Australian art. Portraits: Margaret Olley includes work by Margaret Olley, William Dobell, Russell Drysdale, Ian Fairweather, Judy Cassab, Jeffrey Smart, Ben Quilty, Nicholas Harding and more. At the Margaret Olley Art Centre, 2 Mistral Rd, South Murwillumbah, until September 10. For details visit the Tweed Gegional Gallery's website.

3. Gemfest: Lismore Gemfest is the biggest annual event in the country devoted to lapidary and allied arts and is organised by the Lismore Gem & Lapidary Club Inc. Exhibitors come from all parts of the country and range from amateurs to the most experienced professionals. Everything from rough stone for cutting, through to finished jewellery in all price ranges, along with mineral specimens, fossils, gold nuggets and meteorites are to be found on display. There will be gem sieving activities for children, demonstrations of jewellery making and other craft activities. At the Lismore Showgrounds, Alexandra Pde, North Lismore, this Saturday 9am-5pm and Sunday 9am-3pm, Adult $5. Child $1. For details visit gemclublismore.org.au.

4. Alstonville Antiques and Collectables Fair: At the Alstonville Leisure & Entertainment Centre, 42-46 Commercial Road, Alstonville NSW 2477. This is the Rotary Club of Alstonville 8th annual Antiques and Collectables Fair. Open Hours: Saturday 9am to 4.30pm and Sunday 10am to 3pm.

5. BACCI exhibition: The Ballina Arts and Crafts Inc invites the community to their Autumn Exhibition of Local Fine Arts and Crafts. It will be held at Newrybar Hall, 13/15 Old Pacific Highway, Newrybar, from Friday to Sunday. The official opening will be held on Friday at 6pm. The exhibition will be open 10am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

6. Popped Laneway Activation Byron Bay: A team of Byron Bay's most talented street artists will transform a currently unused public space in the Byron Bay CBD with vibrant, orginal artworks. On Saturday 20 May, a celebration event will bring the reinvigorated space to life with music, food, bar, cool lighting, bespoke sustainably built furniture, green walls, live art, charity auction, talks & ideas program, featuring the brand new Fresh Air Gallery, and more. Popped Creative is honouring Surf Alley this Saturday from noon, chats, history and arts, including a special 18+ event from 5pm. Fully licensed. At Surf Alley, Jonson St, Byron Bay. For details visit poppedcreative.com.

7. Eltham Community Film Night: Eltham Community Foundation presents the Australian film Looking for Grace, starring Richard Roxburgh and Odessa Young. The film is a funny and moving story about chance, fate and the complexities of family life. Rated PG. Movie and meal $25 from 6pm, or movie only $10 at 7.15pm. Bookings advised at elthamcommunityfoundation@gmail.com. Funds raised will be used to secure the Eltham Railway Cottage. At the Eltham Hall, Mayfield St, Eltham, this Saturday from 6pm.

8. Bangalow Billy Cart Derby 2017: From preschoolers to celebrities, those willing to brave the big hill congregated with their wacky carts, gravity presided and the sun did shine on the thousands watching. Every year this event is run 100% by volunteers. In Bangalow this Sunday from 10am. Free family event.

9. Byron Bay to Ballina Coastal Charity Walk: The Byron Bay to Ballina Coastal Charity Walk starts at Denning Park, Byron Bay and finishes at Ballina Surf Life Saving Club this Sunday. The route is mixed terrain with stunning scenery from Byron Bay to Broken Head (12km), Lennox Head (24km) and finishing at Ballina Lighthouse and Lismore Surf Life Saving Club (35km). It raises money for the Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter Rescue. Coastal Charity Walks are set to dates so that the tide exposes the beauty of the landscape and provides access to walkers not offered all year round. More information at coastalcharitywalk.com.au.

10. Casino Drag Racing: Northern Rivers Drag Racing Association presents Casino Drags. At the Casino Airport this Sunday . Gates open at 7.30am. Racing from 10am. Nominations at gate. $15 adults, $25 family. Grudge racing from 2pm, plus a mega raffle, food and drinks available on site. ANDRA Approved event.

11. Amadeus: Lucian Msamati (Luther, Game of Thrones, NT Live: The Comedy of Errors) plays Salieri in Peter Shaffer's iconic play, captured live from the (UK's) National Theatre. It tells the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a rowdy young prodigy, arriving in Vienna, the music capital of the world. After winning multiple Olivier and Tony Awards when it had its premiere at the National Theatre in 1979, Amadeus was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film. This is a live screening of the theatre performance. At the Byron Theatre, 69 Jonson St, Byron Bay, this Sunday at 1pm. $25.

12. Turtle-tastic Sunday: Green Heroes invites you to visit the Turtle hospital for a morning of turtley amazing facts about sea turtles and the importance of ocean conservation. This family-friendly event will include a tour of the hospital and educative activities. At the Ballina Byron Sea Turtle Hospital, 264 North Creek Rd, Ballina, this Sunday from 10am.

13. Mums in May - Snatched: Enjoy Goldie Hawn and Amy Schumer's latest comedy Snatched at Mums In May.Catch a chick flick with your besties and give a shout out to those mums who may be doing it tough. All funds raised will go to local mums living with cancer for some well deserved time out. At Ballina Fair Cinemas this Monday, May 22 from 8.30pm. Tickets are $20.

14. Isabella A Cappella: Isabella A Cappella's eclectic repertoire mixes blues, folk, jazz and pop and the concert will also feature guest vocalists accompanied by Dylan Curnow on piano. This event is a fundraiser for the choir's 2017 touring and recording projects. Wollongbar Community Preschool will operate the cake and desserts stall. Tickets are $40 and include the show and a buffet dinner of Ciccio wood-fired pizza and salads, champagne/soft drink and nibbles on arrival, tea/coffee. At Wollongbar Hall, Hall Ct, Wollongbar, on Wednesday, May 24 at 6.30pm.

15. Travelling North: Travelling North is a heart-warming story about a twilight love affair between Frank and Frances. Frank is in his 70s, a retired civil engineer with socialist leanings and Frances, in her late 50s, is a God-fearing, good-natured woman. Together, they travel north to find their place in the sunny sub-tropics of Tweed Heads, much to the consternation of her conventional children in Melbourne, Frances' daughters, Helen and Sophie. They fear that Frank is using their mother as a live-in nurse and servant. At the Murwillumbah Civic Centre Auditorium, Murwillumbah, from Friday, May 26. for details visit murwillumbahtheatrecompany.com.au.