City starts to jazz up for its time to shine

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY SI­MONE KER­WIN sker­win@ ne­me­

IT’S be­gin­ning to look a lot like fes­ti­val time, as street bunting, win­dow dec­o­ra­tions and a steady pop­u­la­tion boost her­ald the ar­rival of this week­end’s Wan­garatta Fes­ti­val of Jazz and Blues.

Penny Har­grave, Ru­ral City of Wan­garatta rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the jazz fes­ti­val board, said vis­i­tor num­bers were ex­pected to rise from to­mor­row as the city pre­pared for its time to shine in the spot­light.

In a shift for the fes­ti­val, which is cel­e­brat­ing its 29th year in 2018, much of the fo­cus for lo­cals will be on Mer­riwa Park.

The pop­u­lar com­mu­nity stage will move to the re­lax­ing sur­rounds of the sunken gar­dens and its stand of ma­jes­tic red gums, ad­ja­cent to the blues tent, so for the first time there will be no road clo­sures around the city cen­tre.

The pop­u­lar Sun­day mar­ket will also be held in the park.

“The board was care­ful to think about pa­trons, as well as the com­mu­nity ex­pe­ri­ence; by not clos­ing roads and mov­ing the com­mu­nity stage out of the CBD, it will be eas­ier to move around and eas­ier to find park­ing,” Ms Har­grave said.

“And who wouldn’t want to sit in Mer­riwa Park all day with friends and fam­ily, eat and drink, and lis­ten to great mu­sic?”

The com­mu­nity stage was lo­cated in Ford Street last year, and prior to that in Faith­full Street, af­ter mov­ing from its orig­i­nal home in Reid Street.

“The at­mos­phere in the park will be phe­nom­e­nal, and more of a cel­e­bra­tion of what Wan­garatta is re­ally like,” Ms Har­grave said.

“We know that for many peo­ple, the com­mu­nity stage is their an­nual catch-up, so it will be per­fect for that.

“With the com­mu­nity stage po­si­tioned ad­ja­cent to the blues stage, when there is mu­sic on the com­mu­nity stage, there will be a break on the blues stage, and vice versa, so there will be mu­sic hap­pen­ing all the time.”

While there is some rain fore­cast for Fri­day, Ms Har­grave said Satur­day’s predic-

tion of a sunny 25 de­grees would be “ab­so­lutely glo­ri­ous, and make the park just sing”.

A ve­hi­cle will be pro­vided to trans­port fes­ti­val-go­ers up and down the road into Mer­riwa Park if re­quired, fur­ther adding to the event’s re­lax­ing feel.

Ms Har­grave said ticket sales for the week­end fes­ti­val were pro­gress­ing well, with tick­ets this year avail­able from the Wan­garatta Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre box of­fice.

“We will close off on­line sales on Thurs­day, and af­ter that it will be all over the

counter sales at WPAC,” she said.

How­ever, those soak­ing up the at­mos­phere at the com­mu­nity stage and en­joy­ing what they hear from the nearby blues tent will be able to pur­chase blues tick­ets in Mer­riwa Park.

“We are keen to see how that flow hap­pens from the com­mu­nity stage to the blues,” Ms Har­grave said.

Lo­cals passes are still avail-

able, at a cost of $85 for blues (usu­ally $135) and $155 cov­er­ing the fes­ti­val’s eight venues (usu­ally $190), and Ms Har­grave said there was a range of en­ter­tain­ment to suit all ages.

From the Fri­day night pre­miere at the WPAC of an Aus­tralian Art Orches­tra work set around World War 1, to Jus­tine Clarke per­form­ing on the blues stage on Sun­day morn­ing, there will be some­thing

for ev­ery­one.

In­ter­na­tional artists from the USA, Canada, UK, Nether­lands, Ger­many, France, Czech Re­pub­lic, Ja­pan, In­dia and In­done­sia will join top Aus­tralian per­form­ers, as well as lo­cals on the com­mu­nity stage.

The fes­ti­val also in­cludes the Na­tional Jazz Award, this year fo­cus­ing on drums, with 10 fi­nal­ists com­pet­ing in heats across the week­end.

“We prob­a­bly don’t un­der­stand how lucky we are to have these artists com­ing to Wan­garatta, and there is a lot there for peo­ple to get in­volved in,” Ms Har­grave said.

Ru­ral City of Wan­garatta mayor Ken Clarke en­cour­aged lo­cals to soak up the at­mos­phere and mu­sic of the fes­ti­val.

“I think pa­trons will be ex­tremely pleased with the pro­gram on of­fer,” Cr Clarke said.

“Coun­cil’s in­volve­ment both fi­nan­cially and in kind I am con­fi­dent will see the city reap the ben­e­fits of the fes­ti­val, as will our re­tail­ers, restau­rants and ac­com­mo­da­tion houses.

“I con­grat­u­late the pas­sion­ate mem­bers of the jazz board for their love of jazz and the in­vest­ment of time they have put into this great fes­ti­val.”

ALL HAP­PEN­ING: Jazz board mem­ber Miriam Zolin, board chair Mark Bol­sius, and Wan­garatta Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre man­ager Tanya Cam­plin are ready for the in­flux of visi­tors join­ing lo­cals to en­joy this week­end’s Wan­garatta Fes­ti­val of Jazz and Blues.

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