The Woodford Folk Festival is exactly how you imagined it: full of brightly coloured tents, a carefree vibe, and lots to do. When I arrived on the 28th of December, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the festival. Would there be lots of young people? Would I stand out? Would there be a lot of loud music and big crowds? No to all of the above. There was a great mix of young and old, and no one stood out, whether they were in rainbow-coloured clothes or their Sunday best. It became clear that anything goes at the Woodford Folk Festival.
It’s no wonder then that the annual festival north of Brisbane draws crowds of 150,000 plus over its 6 days of activities…the cliche is true: there really is something for everyone.
It was a bit of a muggy day on the Sunday we went but it didn’t stop anyone, least of all the chirpy bus driver who couriered us from the car park to the festival site. Rain, hail or shine, the show must go on. We got to the gates and got our wrist bands and a map. Luckily we brought out gumboots otherwise it could have gotten messy!
Off we went to our first stop of the day: Darren Middleton. Darren is known from his days as the lead guitarist for revered Australian band, Powderfinger. He wasn’t known for his singing back then but he really does have a serious set of pipes on him. He serenaded the audience with a set filled with originals, covers and some songs from his former band. It was really enjoyable and the couple next to us thought so too – they’d seen him the day before as well.
It was time to eat but the choices were endless and I didn’t know where to start. Should I have a healthy fruit salad or some Thai? Or what about a traditional Brazilian meal or a burger? It was hard but we settled on some cheap jaffles which were delightful. It was affordable and you could choose 3 fillings for only $5.
Off we went to do some dancing with Cumbia Colombia Latino! in the Folkloria tent. It was incredible to see so many strangers freely dancing along to the Latin rhythms in the packed tent. We had so much fun but were exhausted, so decided to head off and sit down to watch some comedy at the Parlour stage.
We were actually a bit early and heard some spoken word stuff from a comedy troupe called Mills and Boom!. They were reading hilarious fan fiction erotica, which had the audience in stitches. They were quickly followed by the main act of slam poets versus stand-up comedians. The slam poets went first and performed their set of prose, which was then challenged by the comedians. We didn’t have time to stick around but my guess is that the poets won!
Next it was time to see the Great Green Debate in the Concert tent. This year’s topic was “Are we free?” and featured speakers from radio, print media and the government. It was actually one of my favourite parts of the festival – the speakers were interesting and funny, including a man called Ian who invited the audience to follow him in the revolution. If I wasn’t so tired from working up a sweat with the Colombians, I would have gone with him!
We were still considerably tired from our dance so we stuck around to watch ABC’s Richard Fidler interview former Prime Minister Bob Hawke. Bob is a regular at the festival and is often spotted at the bar or watching a band. He sat down to chat about his life, politics and the state of the country. When asked about what he thinks of Tony Abbott’s caretaking of Australia, Bob didn’t have such pleasant things to say. He reflected on the day Gough Whitlam was dismissed by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, and had nothing more to say than that he didn’t like to dwell on the past. One wonders why he accepted an interview to talk about his career but that’s just my opinion!
It was getting dark so we grabbed a bit more to eat – the man grabbed some Indian cuisine while I settled for some authentic Canadian poutine – delicious!
The beautiful, serene voice of Kate Miller-Heidke floated through the air as we arrived at the Grande tent for her set. She performed some eclectic songs I’d heard and some I didn’t but I liked them all. The tent was packed, as were the hills adjacent, but we managed to get a great spot.
Next it was time to cap off our day with the main event at the Amphitheatre – Sticky Fingers. I didn’t know what to expect but this Sydney band are a mixture of hip-hop, funk, ska, rock and all-round fun. There were thousands at the stage and on the huge hill, dancing and singing along. It was the perfect way to top off a big day.
Have you ever been to the Woodford Folk Festival? What did you think of it? Tell us about your experience below!