Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Port Fairy Folk Festival

Southcombe Camping.
Steve and I were Port Fairy Folk Festival virgins and spent five nights camping on-site. We enjoyed the experience but probably won’t return unless some changes are made. Here are some of our likes and dislikes:
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.


It was a great line up. We enjoyed the headline acts of Tim Finn, Arlo Guthrie, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu and Xavier Rudd. We also thoroughly enjoyed Eric Bogle, Chris Smither and Sara Lee Guthrie and her husband Johnny Irion.

The camping facilities were very good considering the number of people. We turned up one day early and were just in time to find a level tent site.
Arlo Guthrie.
There was a great variety of good quality, reasonably priced food at the festival village.


Festival Chairs (low backed, fold up chairs)
It is a basic requirement of this festival to carry a festival chair as most of the venues don’t have chairs. Festival chairs are a nuisance to carry around and they take up a lot of room in the venues. The chairs also lead people to feel like they “own a space” in the audience. We bought two festival chairs after suffering abuse on Friday night for sitting in our high backed chairs (in the high backed chair zone); people who turned up after us had low backed chairs.
Hour long queue for main stage.
Pressure on the main venue
We were told that 15,000 tickets were sold. The main venue, where most of the headline acts were staged, holds about 4,000 people. Most of these headline acts only performed twice which meant that only half the people had a chance to see them. The program scheduling caused people to set up their festival chairs and remain in the same spot all day. We did the same on Saturday; we didn’t go back to our tent for dinner as we would lose our spot and we would have missed out on seeing Gurrumul. If you leave your chairs unattended for a toilet break, you may return to find they have been moved and you have no leg room at all!
Rushing to get a spot between acts, stage 2.
There was not enough simultaneous scheduling of the popular acts to spread the crowd. An example was the “Women in Voice” concert on Sunday morning. Hundreds sat outside the full house, just listening, because there was nowhere else they wanted to go.
Full House
We felt discouraged from attending the venues outside the festival village in case we arrived to find the “full house” sign on the door. We also spent the festival feeling tense, wondering whether we would find a place in the audience before the “full house” signs were displayed.
Outside Women in Voice concert, Sunday morning, stage 1.
Sound Spill
Even some of the performers mentioned playing in time with the thump, thump coming from the venue next door.
I finally found some leg room.
Port Fairy Shuffle
A process where the audience is continually asked to move the chairs closer together even when there is no room left at all.
The camp site portable toilets and showers were removed the day before checkout. Some consideration should be given to allocating powered camping sites by ballot.
FOLK festival?
 There were some folk acts but there were many bands presenting with a full drum kit and electric guitars. Surely this means Port Fairy is no longer a FOLK festival.

It looks like we were the last to leave,
but there were many other campers packing up at the same time.

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