Lee Duffield

Edited by Lee Duffield
Freedom and Truth

Organisers hopeful for folk festival’s future

Organisers of the famous Woodford Folk Festival say a $3 million grant promised by the Labor Government if it is re-elected, could save the festival’s future.

The million dollar grant was announced as the Woodfordia site hosted its first Splendour in the Grass festival.

Federal Youth Minister, Kate Ellis said the money would improve office space, water and sewerage services, and provide funds to build new amenities blocks and storage sheds.

“If the Woodfordia site is going to continue to attract music events of the scale of Splendour in the Grass – then we need to have the infrastructure in place to sustain thousands of people living on site with minimal impact on the surrounding environment,” Ms Ellis said.

She also conceded that it had nothing to do with attracting Splendour in the Grass to stay at Woodford, and said the grant would be given out irrespective of Woodford lying in a marginal Labor seat.

“They’ll all benefit from having the sort of infrastructure in place that can cater for these crowds whether they live in marginal seats, safe seats or in different countries,” she said.

The news has been welcomed by the organisers of the Woodford Folk Festival and The Dreaming festival, as they struggle with financing infrastructure.

Woodfordia General Manager, Amanda Jackes, said without the funding it would be difficult to see a future.

“Every year the cost of infrastructure investment is greater than our profits and our debt level is now at the highest level we can afford,” said Ms Jackes.

“Our core trading business is fantastic and our balance sheet is strong but our cash flows and infrastructure demands do threaten our very survival.”

Principal Woodfordia organiser, Bill Hauritz echoed the same concerns and said the festivals boosted the local economy for Woodford.

“The Government will have their return almost immediately and the community will have theirs for many years into the future,” he said.

The Woodford Folk Festival has called the 202-hectare Woodfordia home since 1994, and has since been beneficial for the surrounding businesses.

Woodford Hotel Manager, Peter Dyett, said the recent Splendour festival and Woodford Folk Festivals brought ‘great business.’

“It has been fantastic, not only for our business, but the rest of the community to receive increased trading in these times,” said Mr Dyett.

No funding has been announced for Byron Bay’s festival site, where Splendour in the Grass is usually hosted.