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Top class acts pull 50,000 to National Folk Fest Canberra 

April 10, 2009
Top class acts pull 50,000 to National Folk Fest Canberra

Australian has not shut it door to a good time. The organisers of the National Folk Festival say crowds over the five-day festival reached about 50,000. This lines up with attendance last year and flies in the face of recession fears.

National Folk Festival managing director Jared Wilkins said last night that a record number of season tickets were sold.

The number of people who bought season tickets for the festival ... that actually increased for this year, he said.

The National Folk Festival organisers said today that the big crowds were a great result in the current economic climate.

Record attendance figure were within reach on Monday morning with strong attendance and festival venues filled by folk fans. South Australia was the Featured State for 2009. The Fiddle Chicks from SA are a class act and did their state proud. international music was represented by Canada and Old Man Luedecke and April Verch, Martin Wyndham-Read from the UK, Colum Sandswas among the Irish acts and The Beez added the Germany flavour.

Australia put up its best with Eric Bogle performing with John Munro. A group to take time to listen to is Junior. They have sound and message going for them. Hundreds of the world's best musicians performed daily, in a non-stop flow of entertainment across 22 venues.

National Folk Festival Artistic Director Dave O'Neill said- The National Folk Festival is a great day out and the ideal event for the whole family.

By Monday morning the event had defied gloomy economic forecasts and looked set to match or beat last years attendance figures.

Daily recordsshowed that on Sunday around 8,500 people had poured through the gates by 5pm, with hundreds continuing to arrive for the evening activities.

Sototal attendance by Monday morning was around 43,000 people, with one full day of festivities to go.

The total number who attending the Festival in 2008 was around 49,500.

Managing Director Jared Wilkins said organisers would take a well-earned rest before gathering to reflect on the event and why it has maintained its growth despite the tough financial climate.

Like many event organisers, we were somewhat wary this year, given the climate in which we are operating,

But at this stage, the figures seem to indicate that if you put on a good show, if you offer great value, and provide lots of variety with something for everyone, then the people will still come in droves,

And as a non-profit event, every cent we make goes towards building a bigger and better National Folk Festival for Canberra next year, Jared Wilkins said.

The 2009 National Folk Festival included some 227 acts performing 600 hours of entertainment in 22 venues at Exhibition Park in Canberra.

Ona comfortably warm Easter Sunday evening performers in most venues played to a full house . Showers came but did not dampen the enthusiasm of folk fans, who simply dressed for the weather and pressed on.

Ami Williamson wowed the festival crowd.Ami is the daughter of John Williamson and is a singer-songwriter-showgirl, writing witty edgy folk tunes performed in a vaudevillian style. She delivered big time to standing room only audiences.

Ami Williamsonhas just returned from a tour entertaining Australian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Festival finished with a parade commencing at the Kids Festival and culminating with the Finale Concert from 7pm to 10pm last night.

ACT Tourism Minister Andrew Barr paid tribute to the organisation and content of the National Folk Festival as a reason why the Festival had done better in ticket sales this year than other comparative events.

AndrewBarr (who is also Minister for Education, and Training, Planning, Children and Young People, Sport and Recreation) acknowledged the positive economic and cultural contribution of the event.

Despite tough economic times the National Folk Festival is doing better than ever - contributing around $7 million to ACT's economy and attracting about 50,000 people, including many interstate visitors.

Ticket sales confirm that on Saturdayalone, around 12 000 people had walked through the gates by lunchtime. Minister Barr praised the National Folk Festival organisers for their ability to draw significant numbers to Canberra over Easter.

The fact remains that there's nothing like hard economic times to test the quality of any event.

So I think the fact this year's Festival has done better in ticket sales than other comparative major folk or cultural event is a testament to the quality of its content and organisation, Minister Barr said.

As usual after 43 years of the National therewas a blend of International performers and Australians offering traditional and contemporary folk music as well as plenty of folk music from all over the world.

A real crowd favourite, the re-creation of an Australian Drovers' camp offered billy tea, damper, traditional stew and sheep-on-a-spit to enjoy by the campfire or folk fanspulled up a log to listen to traditional Bush Performers.

The Festival creates a village atmosphere which celebrates the traditions that have created Australia. A village has to have shops, so the Festival had streets of craft and food stalls - all under the trees.

The family festival inside the main groundswas a purpose-made area for children's performances and participation for children only.

Prancing fiddle from South Australia
Prancing fiddle from South Australia

Dance display groups from communities all over Australia came to the Festival to share with the rest of the country.

Yarns, storytelling and poetry - included the World Poetry Debate and the come-all-ye Poets' Breakfasts, a daily heart - starter where all poets, the budding and the already bloomed rolled out their purple prose over morning coffee and croissants.

Boo Hewerdinewas back. One of the UK's finest singer songwriters. Humour, talent and the ability to take listeners on a journey

Roscommon born Alan Kelly added his unique skills to the festival fare. Alanis widely regarded as the finest exponent of the piano accordion in traditional Irish music and is credited with single handedly reviving the piano accordion as a traditional instrument.

Alan grew up in a house steeped in traditional music and dance.

Fiddle Chicks give new  meaning to  soap box presentation
Fiddle Chicks give new meaning to soap box presentation

Alan's recording credits include appearances with Eddi Reader, Cathy Ryan, Niamh Parsons, Michael McGoldrick, and Sean Keane.

The Spooky Mens Chorale once again struck while the ironywas hot with their strangely funny brand of social comment in their award winningUrban Sea Shanties.

The festival broke down artificial cultural and social barriers and brought people to a sense of belonging to an extended family with common interests.

The National Folk Festivalalso presenteddance from all around the world - Africa, Spain, China, Ireland, Egypt, Scotland, Argentina, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Lebanon, the Balkans and beyond colonial and Scottish balls, bush dancing, square dancing, clog dancing; dance workshops and dance displays.

Editors Note: GoSee includes camera impressions of the National Folk Festival.

To find out more, visit www.folkfestival.asn.au or phone 02 6262 4792.

Alan Kelly makes accordian an art form
Alan Kelly makes accordian an art form
Colum Sands is gentle Irish fun
Colum Sands is gentle Irish fun
Rahbani Middle Eastern Dance
Rahbani Middle Eastern Dance
Old Man Luedecke. His CDs will not return to Canada
Old Man Luedecke. His CDs will not return to Canada
Drovers Camp jigs on in the rain
Drovers Camp jigs on in the rain
Junior have message and sound
Junior have message and sound
Junior settle into their songs
Junior settle into their songs
The Spooky  Men Chorale at ABC concert
The Spooky Men Chorale at ABC concert
Ted Egan story teller and entertainer with smirnophone
Ted Egan story teller and entertainer with smirnophone
Street Busker
Street Busker
Michael Kennedy sings for the community
Michael Kennedy sings for the community
Kids love the Festival
Kids love the Festival
Bluegrass at ABC concert
Bluegrass at ABC concert
Alan Kelly and co pick up the tune
Alan Kelly and co pick up the tune
Folk fans flock to the Nationals
Folk fans flock to the Nationals
Folk Fest pulls fans 2009
Folk Fest pulls fans 2009
Troubadour warms up Thursday night
Troubadour warms up Thursday night
GoSee under cover
GoSee under cover
GoSee groupies at National Folk Festival
GoSee groupies at National Folk Festival
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