Woodford Folk Festival2010 marks the 25th year the Woodford Folk Festival (WFF) has been in existence and drawing crowds to the majestic hinterland of Queensland’s sunshine coast. This festival would have to be one of Australia’s most notable music and performing arts festivals, but unlike other music festivals that appeal to a specific demographic or style of music, WFF has consciously evolved a universal psyche inclusive of all. It represents every culture on its very own group of world stages. All 39 in fact, that over six days and six nights entertains around 120,000 people across 500 acres of magnificent parkland.

Festival founder Bill Hauritz conceptualised the event in Maryborough with the help of a group of passionate folk from Nambour who unknowingly shaped the internationally acclaimed festival it is today. “I hope that our 25th festival enjoys the continued success of previous years,” Mr Hauritz said of his silver anniversary achievement. “And as long as my enthusiasm lasts, I will keep going each year helping put together future festivals.”

Managing the Festival is the Queensland Folk Federation (QFF), a not-for-profit organisation, which also owns the property that hosts this immense gathering of humanity… in excess of 2800 volunteers, more than 3000 performers and over 580 events. The group operates under the charter the land is dedicated to the arts and humanities and is underpinned by a strong sense of environmentalism. And practicing what it preaches, within the festival program one can find lectures, workshops, seminars, presentations and forums on a range of social, political and environmental issues. Even children are included in knowledge sharing, this year the Permakids crew will engage kids to help build a sustainable vegie village over the six days, complete with chooks and lessons on how to attract frogs and worms to your garden at home.

When you arrive for your first Woodford and join the snake line of cars full of families, friends and lovers, what hits you first is the spectacle of what you are about to be part of. People of all walks of life from every corner of the globe wait peacefully like cows in a pasture to enter the gates of paradise. Once inside, the awe continues to grow as you behold the greater festival village. Streets lined with restaurants, cafes, stalls, bars, street theatre and parades, tree-filled campgrounds, butterfly walks, ponds and wildlife complete the picturesque festival site. And when the sun sets over the ridge late in the evening casting a peaceful glow and balmy haze over the festival’s splendor you realise how fortunate we are in Australia to have our celebratory season fall in the summer months.

You can camp at the festival for the six days and nights or go along as a day visitor; entry is flexible and organic with many people coming and going throughout the duration of the revelry. There is a real sense that the 500 acres is a small suburb of its own, unique to those citizens who are present to share it. Whether you are there for a day or the entire festival, a state of bliss is assured. There is no other festival in Australia offering attendees, young and old, the breathtaking choice of music, music and more music, talks, discussions, workshops, art installations, food, craft and experience stalls, bars and more. In fact it is quite a feat that organisers manage to fit a program of such magnitude into six days and nights.

Arrested DevelopmentThis year musicians, dancers and performers from the USA (Arrested Development), Ecuador (Choclo y la Orgia Cosmica), Senegal (Daara J Family), Norway (Katzenjammer), Canada (Old Man Leudecke), United Kingdom (Orkestra del Sol), Germany (Watanabe), New Caledonia (Ykson), Sweden (Promoe) Australia (Jeff Lang, Kate Miller-Heidke, Kingfisha, Lior, Marshall & the Fro, Monsieur Camembert, The Crooked Fiddle Band, The Rooftops, Tim Freedman and You Am I) plus many other countries will create the eclectic atmosphere. Celebrity-like icons including former Labor Prime Minister’s Bob Hawke and Kevin Rudd will be speaking on issues of trade unions and Australia’s future. There will be shamanic drum, Brazilian Samba dance and circus workshops, film and documentary screenings, yoga and tai chi sessions, discussions on folk medicine and so much more.

The children are not excluded from enjoying themselves either, being catered for with the same attention to detail their parents are given. Since the Festival’s inception QFF have held true to the belief in presenting a programme for children that they can jump into, roll around in, drink, smell and be covered with. “The wish is that they come, have fun, learn something new, find giving and receiving in equal measure, and leave inspired,” Queensland Folk Federation. Growing year by year to encompass more of the things children value and love, this year’s Children’s Festival includes puppetry, Oki-do yoga and Zen Thai massage, playing with clay, a costume carnivale, story-telling and juggling lessons on top of a full arts and crafts activities set list.

This Festival really is a multigenerational, deep dish of ethnic cuisine served up on a gilt platter for everyone to sup. Whatever it is you have planned for yourself or your family this year end, put Woodford Folk Festival on your list of ‘must do’s’… plan your life around dates December 27, 2010 to January 1, 2011, and enter the new year on an inspirational high.

For more information on the Woodford Folk Festival including this year’s programme, tickets, accommodation and information on getting there, go to www.woodfordfolkfestival.com.

Image Credits:-
Top Right - Street procession. Photo - Mark Pokorny.
Bottom right - Headline act, Arrested Development. Photo - Bob Butler

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