Letter to the editor
Last weekend I experienced the Strawberry Fields Festival for the first time, helping out on the local community barbecue.
Had I known what a wonderful event this was I would have been there 10 years ago, although possibly not wearing festival costume.
I was completely blown away by the level of organisation and dedication of the young trio who put this event on — Billy, Tara and Elliot.
Having in the past held parties for my own children up to around 200 people, the prospect of entertaining 8000 is simply terrifying.
Tracks had been expertly graded to provide wide roads for buses and cars. There were letters to neighbours (tucked into fence posts for those without mailboxes), alerting people to the event and providing phone numbers for inquiries.
Police wandered the event and were paid for by the festival. Accurate and extremely visible selftesting stations were available for alcohol and drugs within the grounds.
There was a huge commitment to recycling with large water tanks positioned around the grounds for filling reusable water bottles in order to eliminate plastic bottles.
All cups and food containers were recyclable too.
Water trucks patrolled the whole event helping to keep the dust down and the medical tent on site was well equipped and central to the festival.
Food stalls were diverse and plentiful and no alcohol was served at the festival. Punters could bring their own.
There was an information centre with a diorama of the entire festival layout and maps, signage and information booklets for those whose sense of direction was dodgy.
As for the punters themselves, I think I must have served a few thousand people food and every single one of them were happy, well-mannered young people just wanting a good time.
At 57, wandering around the stunning installations and stage sets, I was somewhat of a novelty and many party goers approached me to see if I was enjoying the weekend.
The installations were incredible. A huge eagle with its nest made out of large sticks, an incredible timber construction with hammock style platforms to relax on and an entire building complete with furniture all made from cardboard by the Monash architectural fraternity to name a few.
Contrary to popular discussion, the organisers do not make a fortune out of the event and this particular festival is the first one that has returned them a reasonable salary.
They all have other businesses supporting them throughout the year and choose to continue this festival in the manner they started; as three good friends holding an event to get young people together and celebrate community and local talent.
It is no mean feat and takes months of planning even though ‘bump in’ is only a few short weeks and the week ‘bumping out’ is laborious work recycling all items left and separating recyclable rubbish and denotable items for local charities.
There are also many meetings with local council and local business people and even a barbecue provided free of charge for any local people wanting to have a look around on the evening before the festival starts.
Sure there were those for whom moderation was not a byword and were at times a little the worse for wear, but their mates, other revellers and the volunteers kept a good eye on anyone in a bad way.
I had a ball and loved watching so many young people have a great time in the bush. Too be honest I reckon the organisers of the Melbourne Cup could take a leaf out of their book.