A portion of the crowd at last year’s Blues and Roots Festival at Byron Bay.
A portion of the crowd at last year’s Blues and Roots Festival at Byron Bay.

Extra numbers count for Bluesfest

EXPECT even more festival goers to flood into town for the popular Byron Bay Bluesfest.

The maximum crowd allowed could rise by 2500 music lovers if organisers get the go-ahead from Byron Shire Council.

Director Peter Noble said he was very optimistic the council would approve an application to boost numbers from 17,500 maximum a day to 20,000.

The higher numbers would apply from 2013.

“We originally asked the council for permission to have a maximum of 20,000 festival goers in June 2008,” he said.

“That number gave us the most chance of running a profitable event, especially with the infrastructure we needed to install at our new site at Tyagarah Tee Tree Farm.”

The farm, 11km north of Byron Bay and 8km south of Brunswick Heads, was home to the festival for the first time this year.

“That original application was heard by council in September 2009,” Mr Noble said.

“We were then told approval would be given for a crowd of 17,500 and if we ran a responsible event our request for a higher number would be looked upon favourably.”

This year’s Bluesfest attracted no serious complaints.

“Everything we did was an absolute tick,” Mr Noble said.

A council spokesperson said it expected to make a decision about what was essentially a variation to a development application in September.

Mr Noble said festival organisers, including promoter and co-festival director Michael Chugg, were keen for higher numbers to be confirmed because they had already spent about $2.5 million on the Tyagarah site, including drainage, installing power and running water, and on a koala study.

“We would like to spend another $1m to $2m in the next two years making the site comfortable and professional,” Mr Noble said.“What we are working towards is something that is not just a primitive site.”

He added Tourism NSW had estimated the event brought $13.5 million into the state and ‘the festival itself spends millions of dollars in the area on top of that’.

Bluesfest has just won the international Greener Festival Award, recognising outstanding environmental achievement, for the fourth year running – a record for any festival worldwide.



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