Woodford Folk Festival 2018/2017
27/12/2018 – 01/01/2018
Australia’s version of Glastonbury is Woodford Folk Festival, a socialist utopia that comes together every year for the last week of December to appreciate and celebrate our Earth, bodies, souls, minds, health, hearts, and each other. During this time of year, Woodfordia becomes a town of its own, swelling to be the 67th largest town in Australia with over 100,000 attending for this glorious annual event. Complete with a built-in tent city sewerage system to deplete waste offset, eco-friendly water saving technology everywhere onsite, and encourages a leave-no-trace attitude.
This year 332 Australians performed music, dance, meditation, talks, cabaret, street performance, art & craft, ceremonial performance, and the Children’s Festival – there’s no denying the incredible talent coming from our very own backyard. It also boasts a rich blend of rich Australian and international culture, health and wellbeing modality workshops, delicious vegan food options, varieties of punter participation workshops and SO much more. I can understand why people return for years and years running…There is no way of experiencing all of Woodford Folk Festival in only one week. The Woodford Folk Festival knows how to throw a GIANT bush-doof – going beyond just a music festival to offer an all-ages, choose-your-own-adventure experience replete with everything from circus performances and dance workshops to comedy debates!!
The lineup of talented musicians included big names like The East Pointers, ARIA award winner Montaigne, HUSKY, Caravana Sun, HolyHoly, and Kate Miller Heidke.
I set up my tent in the blazing sun in that ‘WOODFORD HEAT’ that you hear about from the Woodford regulars. And boy do I now understand why it gets its own label, it is like no other heat I’ve experienced because it was inescapable – a cold shower is the single only way to cool down unless it by some miracle starts to rain for whatever short-period that may be and that sometimes made it muggier. BUT that is probably the only complaint I would have about the entire experience so it is out of the way now, and once my tent was set up and I walked around realising cold showers and toilets were close, and the festival wasn’t a long walk, I was comfortable and ready to get into it.
I will give credit to the Festival Director, Bill Hauritz, and all of the hard work that goes behind this incredible event because it is hands-down the most organised festival I have ever been too, it is evident that this is a long-running festival 2017 being its 32nd year.
Over 450 contractors and volunteers build the village. Many come from around the world to be part of the festival build and then stay for a week after to pull the event down.
The festival build includes:
Installation of over 20,000 square metres of canvas for 35 venues, 15 bars and over 200 food, craft and merchandise stalls
Erection of over 5,500 signs
Installation of over 13k’s of fencing.
Placement of over 60 temporary offices and hired amenity blocks
Filtration of 14 million litres of water
Cleaning of over 500 toilets and 341 showers
Distribution of 15k’s electrical and communication cabling
Construction of 25 stages
Placement of 16,000 chairs
Installation of 600 lanterns
Since 1994 Woodfordia Inc. has been investing in the land and developing it into a festival site. To date, in excess of $14M has been invested in site facilities. The major achievements include:
57 Amenity Blocks
Onsite Wastewater Treatment Plant
Onsite Water Filtration Plant
Visual Arts Studio
55km’s of all-weather roads
25,000 capacity amphitheatre
Major electrical infrastructure including transformers, 156 power poles and more than 10km’s of aerial power lines
Pathways and pedestrian bridges
100,000 trees, understory, sedges and orchards. – Woodford Folk Festival.
The infrastructure, facilities, festival staff, and the thousands of volunteers are all a BIG part of what has kept Woodfordia alive and consistently progressing for 32 years. On my first day, I even found out from one of the Woodford butterfly volunteers (information volunteers) that every single tree planted on the Woodfordia land (there were lots) were planted by Woodford patrons over the man years they have been coming and going.
The intense amount of love poured into Woodford Folk Festival can be felt as I make my way around acres of Australian bushland taking in the festival atmosphere. My first festival activity I took part in was a workshop in the DANCE HALL, it was traditional Indian dance with a professional teacher. I was surrounded by people of all sorts old and young, men and women, all participating and enjoying themselves laughing at their efforts. After attempting to dance, and making a few new friends, I continued to explore as the sun came down and grabbed myself some Govindas and it went down a treat, festival food is always great after lots of walking. I observed the sea of people taking note that gender-specific clothing seemed non-existent, and costumes were highly encouraged – I am slowly falling in love with the free-spirited nature of this wonderful environment.
After some decent rainfall the night before I had hoped that it would be a cool morning, but that WOODFORD HEAT did not ease as at 6.00am I woke feeling like I could not breathe and bathed in sweat reaching for the tent zipper gasping. After escaping from the hot box that is my tent I walked up to the end of PENNY LANE to a small coffee shop that is on the way into the festival from the camp grounds. A long, ice-black coffee to wake me up, and give me the strength to get through a 9.00am yoga class. To my surprise, there were a good 50 or more people at the GREENHOUSE participating in the early morning class. Looking around while I am in my best downward dog pose I yet again notice the eclectic blend of people around me, people of all ages, genders, cultural background and personality types all integrating and enjoying the festival harmoniously.
The second night was going to be a hard one to follow after a ridiculously wild set from VAUDEVILLE SMASH in the TROPIC TENT. I honestly don’t think I have more fun in a moshpit then I do at a VAUDEVILLE SMASH set, I have seen this band a few times in Brisbane but seeing them perform for the first time at a music festival of this scale was something else!
Knowing what to expect my second morning waking in my tent made it slightly less overwhelming, and I made sure to leave a small air hole in one of the tent zips. My first mission to get to a cold shower, I again took time to appreciate the amenities. Having a cold shower so close that never felt overcrowded made the heat far more bearable.
Today I got the chance to check out some of the market stalls inclusive of vintage hippy fashion stalls, crystal and jewelry shops, LOTS of hair and glitter stalls, health and wellbeing stalls, skincare stalls, and so much more I didn’t see! After buying myself a few crystals, and getting my hair wrapped I stopped into the CIRCUS TENT to do some hula hooping and get my face glittered. Today I wanted to make sure I got to see one of the speakers, and who better than DR. KARL from Triple J who was doing an environmental science talk regarding The Great Barrier Reef.
After a fun, adventurous, and informative the night finally set in cooling the festival grounds down and finally it was time to boogie! This time I went to see a band I had not seen perform live before, WILD MARMALADE live in the PINEAPPLE LOUNGE (18+ over 10.00pm). These guys were nothing short of amazing, with the lead drummer on the Himalayan sound drum and second frontman on the didgeridoo they made electronic sounds come out of ancient, traditional instruments. They had been performing for more than two hours before I HAD to stop dancing before due to the heat, but these guys are definitely worth listening to.
Another scorcher of a day to no surprise, but I was in no rush to get inside the festival today. I was content to keep it nice and relaxed because tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. I spent day four exploring the grounds slowly, stopping to watch bands as I passed different tents, appreciating the different genres of music like folk, Motown, bluegrass, country, rock, and music I would not even try label. I talked more to the volunteer butterflies about the history of Woodford Folk Festival and found out there is a tree planting ceremony that happens every April. Punters buy a tree during the festival and come back in four months when it has grown a little to plant it in the ground. This is how the enormous property has continued the vast bush of trees that surround the land, which I found out is indigenous Jinibara territory. The Jinibara Dance Troupe had performed in the opening ceremony to bless the land for the week to come because it is their peoples land.
DAY 5 (NEW YEARS EVE)
As the day of the 31st of December progressed there was a considerable difference in the number of people wandering the festival grounds. While the last four days never felt overcrowded it was now beginning to feel like most music festivals, a LOT of people packed into one place. For one-day and night I did not mind the atmosphere being a bit busier, and it was nice to see so many people come together for New Year’s Eve from different backgrounds to celebrate.
The talk of the day was that VAUDEVILLE SMASH would be doing the midnight countdown at THE PARLOUR, and it sounded like A LOT of people were going to be there.
Something I learned spontaneously while exploring the festival on New Year’s Eve was that at 11.30pm exactly the ENTIRE festival goes completely silent and people light a candle to give thanks and appreciate the universe. At first, I was not sure what was going on and then when I looked around and saw every one around me at a stand-still and 100,000 people fall to complete silence I understood it must have been a silence of gratitude – you could feel the positive energy beaming around the silence of the land.
After appreciating such a beautiful thing I made my way to THE PARLOUR as it was 11.45pm; almost countdown time. The VAUDEVILLE SMASH stage was bursting out the sides with people, it looked as if a majority of the festival was here to countdown together. After grooving to a few of their funky 80s disco tracks like Devil Said, Richter Scale, and Driving Me Wild, I was in awe of lead singer Mark Lucchesi and his ability to perform his ass-off in the ridiculous heat.
Marc walks side-stage and you see him be passed a phone, his nodding his head, the band stops playing and I can see Marc come up to the mic…
“We got it. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!!! Happy New Year!!! Alright, Alright kiss who you gotta kiss, hug who you gotta hug. I don’t give a f**k who it is. Let’s party, WE ARE GONNA PARTY!!!”,
And in a sea of hundreds of people as I rolled into 2018 my heart was bursting with joy at the incredible 5 days I had experienced. I will DEFINITELY see you again next year Woodford Folk Festival.
AMNplify – BD
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