Woodford Folk Festival Faces Uncertain Future Following Record-Breaking Year
Massive crowds are putting pressure on the fest's existing infrastructure.
For 31 years, the Woodford Folk Festival has been a staple of south-east Queensland's event calendar, gifting the region with an annual array of music, arts, culture, creativity, camping and mud. As other festivals have come and gone around the country, it has remained an end-of-year mainstay, as well as a must-attend event for fest lovers; however that might not always be the case.
Just days after the 2016/17 event wrapped up, Festival Director Bill Hauritz has announced that Woodford faces an uncertain future as a result of the strain being placed on the fest's infrastructure. This year saw audiences grow by more than five percent to reach 132,000 patrons over six days, with patrons flocking to see more than 2000 acts, performers and speakers across 438 events, including Paul Kelly, Gang Of Youths, Adalita, Amanda Palmer and Methyl Ethel.
"It has been a most beautiful festival in almost every way but our future is unclear," said Hauritz in a statement. "This festival is becoming a hub for creativity attracting some great minds. It's been an inspiration for many of us," he continued. However, with growing crowds comes growing problems, as he also explained. "Raw water storage, and dusty and broken roads took the edge off what was a truly wonderful event. Dust was a big problem we have to fix, and the roads – they're just not up to required standards. That's just the beginning of our infrastructure issues."
What happens next is yet to be determined, though given the massive amount of love and support Woodford Folk Festival receives — including from interstate attendees, with a third of festival visitors hailing from outside of Queensland — it's certain that everyone involved will be working to ensure the fest continues.
The festival certainly has the backing of Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Allan Sutherland, who has called for more government funding. "With such a successful year of festival attendance and camping numbers – it has never been more important for all levels of Government to provide funding support and certainty to Woodfordia Inc. to turn Woodfordia into a destination worthy of ongoing national and international acclaim," he said. "Funding will be vital to ensure this site receives much needed infrastructure upgrades including permanent staging, toilets and amenities, dust control, roads, and camping space for this iconic Australian festival and Woodfordia itself to grow and flourish."