Sophie Gordon and Jacob Moore from the Forest Woodford tent at Woodford Folk Festival.
Sophie Gordon and Jacob Moore from the Forest Woodford tent at Woodford Folk Festival. Shayla Bulloch

'Creative wonderland' kicks off as best Woodford yet

TOWERING art installations and thousands of visitors bustled through the streets of Woodfordia in a far cry from what used to be a dairy farm filled with tractors and cows in the 1990s.

In it's 33rd year, Woodford Folk Festival transformed into a haven of all things art, culture, music and environment with this year's theme bringing all those together for six days and nights.

General manager Amanda Jackes said the theme of 'we are all connected' was amplified by more than 2000 artists, performers and presenters in 1314 shows at 25 venues across the 500-acre site at Woodford.

Woodford Folk Festival general manager Amanda Jackes was gearing up for the best festival yet.
Woodford Folk Festival general manager Amanda Jackes was gearing up for the best festival yet. Shayla Bulloch

"It's a creative wonderland where you can tap into your creative state," she said.

The festival boasted more than 200 stalls, 66 of those different cuisines and seven new Festival Journeys designed to inspire visitors.

On opening day of the festival, thousands flocked through the giant bamboo 'portal' entranceway which took six days to make by hand. More than 125,000 people are expected to walk through the portal over the same time-frame of the festival.

Winding through the streets and over bridges, visitors were spoiled for choice with workshops, eclectic stalls and music which loured those in.

Amanda said finding those unearthed artists was a favourite part of her festival experience.

"Walking past a venue you weren't planning on going to and being drawn in by the music is incredible," she said.

"It's how you fall in love with your next favourite artist who will be your play-list for the New Year."

Despite the quality music and arts, Amanda said connecting to fellow Woodfordians was priceless.

"Seeing the people come together, and first-time volunteers experience Woodford is my favourite part," she said.

"There's nothing like being a part of this incredible place at this time of year."

Founder and director of the festival Bill Hauritz agreed saying the people were the most important part of the festival.

Founder and director of Woodford Folk Festival, Bill Hauritz.
Founder and director of Woodford Folk Festival, Bill Hauritz. Shayla Bulloch

After 33 years at the helm, Mr Hauritz said he hoped Woodfordia would hold a small place in shaping the future of our next generation.

"There's always tremendous change in the world and I'd like to think the little things we do here might just help the next leaders build and grow to be better people," he said.

Mr Hauritz said the festival wasn't just about arts and music, but it focussed on timely issues with an array of talks including environmental, ocean, indigenous, climate change and well-being conversations.

Despite "promising" to fix an ongoing dust issue from the masses of cars, Mr Hauritz said the weather wasn't on their side.

After more than "six inches of rain" in two days just a couple of weeks out from opening day, the promise hoped to be met next year.

The festival ran on 95 per cent renewable energy by Mr Hautiz was determined to keep improving.

"It is an accessible festival but I still think there's work to do," he said.

He hoped for better mobility for the elderly and disabled in future festivals.

With the festival officially kicked of and revellers enjoying the grounds, Mr Hauritz said he was most looking forward to the concluding fire event.

"At the start of December the tension builds up," he said.

"But at the fire event it feels as it if will explode, and then it's all over."

He thanked all the visitors and campers gracing the festival over the next few days saying they had entered into a special community.

"We are only as strong as the community we come from," he said.

"Ideas would have emerged from people talking about issues and getting it together over the years.

"There is no reason or benefit other than you become part of our community that we talk to, listen to and be a part of."

WHATS ON TONIGHT

Circus Cabaret - 9pm

River Matthews - 11.20pm

The Imprints - 9.20pm

Burger Joint - 11pm

Rob Knaggs - 8.30pm

Chris Blaze - 7.15pm

Wanderers - 8pm

Brekky Boy - 9.30pm

Chris Tamwoy - 10.30pm

Ruby Gill - 8pm

Emily Wurramara - 9.40pm

Rhythm Hunters - 10pm

Nattali Rize - 8pm

Cat Empire - 9.30pm



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