Over the six days and nights Woodford Folk Festival attracted an aggregate attendance of 113,000 (an increase of 15% on last year). The festival, held in Queensland over the New Year period, is Australia’s largest gathering of artists and musicians and has just celebrated its 27th year. But not a human footprint will be left behind, not a port-a-loo in sight, as the festival site is self sustained and ‘Woodfordia’ is packed away for another year.
Music and politics. They don’t always go together but when they do they’re a force to be reckoned with, igniting the spirit and creating the soundtracks for generations of change makers. A surprise visit by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the fourth day was a highlight, marking the first time in the Festival’s 27 years that a standing Prime Minister has attended. Ms Gillard was invited to Woodford to engage in a discussion with longstanding Festival devotee, former PM Bob Hawke and Festival Director Bill Hauritz and to officially open the Festival’s newest addition, a bamboo bridge, now named ‘Julia Creek Bridge’.
The 2327 hardworking volunteers who contributed 100,500 hours of time and 267 festival organizers who contributed another 42,000 hours, have now started the huge task dismantling the town of “Woodfordia” which is recreated each year.
The Festival this year used…
- 11km of hessian fencing
- 9.6km of flagging tape
- 34,740 toilet paper rolls
sold and distributed…
- 17kms of drink tickets
- 25,500L of water
- 114.75 tonnes of landfill
- 26.5 tonnes of recycling,
- 4.05 tonnes of cardboard
- 5.5 million litres of sewerage which was treated on site
- 6 days
- 1 festival
- countless memories
- infinite gratitude
Woodford Folk Festival celebrated a couple of special anniversaries this year, with iconic Australian legend and one of Woodfordia’s longest standing performers, Shane Howard choosing to mark the 30th anniversary of Goanna’s anthem “Solid Rock” with fellow Woodfordian, Shellie Morris. Another milestone marked at the Festival was 100 years of Woody Guthrie. His granddaughter, Cathy Guthrie, along with her Folk Uke compadre Amy Nelson (daughter of Willie Nelson), hosted a New Year’s concert delivering the songs and stories of one of the world’s most influential music legends.
Musical standouts this year included renowned international soul superstar Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings and John Butler with his special rendition of ‘Treat Your Mama’, dedicated to the protest against the proposed gas plant in the Kimberley. The surprise acts for the Festival included a contagious performance by Bobby Alu and electric troubadours Rapskallion with their theatrical concoction of piratical polkas and vaudevillian punk blues.
There was plenty for the kids to do at the Children’s Festival including an array of arts and crafts, environmental talks, performances by some of the country’s leading children’s entertainers and a surprise visit by PM Julia Gillard, who was shown how to finger knit by some of Woodford’s young and spritely.
In a significant and unique Woodford tradition, the crowd came to a standstill at 11:30pm on NYE to complete three minutes of silence to reflect on the events of the past year. As the Festival came to a close, everyone gathered to witness the annual fire event with the burning of the Ship, signifying the beginning of a new year, and marking the end of the 27th annual Woodford Folk Festival.
Festival Director Bill Hauritz said “It wasn’t the biggest festival we have ever done however it was certainly the best.”
The Woodford Folk Festival is supported by Tourism and Events Queensland as part of a growing calendar of cultural, sporting, regional and business events for the state.
Tickets for the 2013 Woodford Folk Festival will go on sale in April. Check out www.woodfordfolkfestival.com for details.