Country festival hits the mark
Horsham Country Music Festival organisers are confident they have the formula right in meeting the demands of their target audience.
Festival co-ordinator Lyall Wheaton said the event’s consistent growth in the past decade reflected that it was hitting the mark.
The four-day Horsham Country Music Festival will start on March 22 and feature a broad cross-section of artists and country-music genres.
Mr Wheaton said the festival schedule remained relatively unchanged from last year, with the event’s flagship ACE Radio Country Music Spectacular on the Saturday likely to draw the biggest crowd.
“After 10 years, we’re very confident we have the entertainment variety and formula pretty much right,” he said.
“The pinnacle of the festival is definitely the Saturday spectacular.
“I’d challenge anyone to come up with a better festival scenario where people can gather on the lush lawns of the river bank at Sawyer Park to enjoy a broad range of live country music.
“With a forecast of favourable weather, we also have one of the best outdoor music soundshell venues in country Victoria.
“We’ve long identified the soundshell, with its parking and lawns, as the perfect venue to accommodate a large crowd and that’s why it’s the primary headquarters for the festival.
“There is a lot of room for everyone to bring their chairs, picnics or whatever.”
Mr Wheaton said the festival featured something for everyone, especially the over-60 target audience, over four big days of live entertainment.
“The beauty of our festival is that it is for the country-music traditionalist, and this appeal applies to a broad cross-section of ages,” he said.
“But it really is directed to appeal to the older members of the community.
“To be perfectly honest, our festival probably rates as one of the biggest in Victoria providing festival-scale entertainment to people aged over 60.”
Mr Wheaton stressed the festival’s organising committee was driven by a desire to ‘put on something for the community’.
“Whether it be to raise money for a worthy cause or simply as entertainment and a love of country music – we do it for the people,” he said.
Proceeds from this year’s festival will go to a Wimmera Cancer Centre equipment fund, following previous festival dedications to the cancer project.
“One of the prime motivations behind why we’re supporting the cancer centre project is that in the past 11 years, four committee members have had cancer and three have died,” Mr Wheaton said.
“That certainly provides a great incentive on top of everything else.
“We raised 17,500 for the cancer centre in 2016 and we hope to raise close to that amount again this year.
“This is a way of showing a dedica- tion of making sure our festival stays in touch with the community.”
Mr Wheaton urged patrons to make the most of the events and to buy a $65 festival pass.
“If a person wants to get the most out of the festival then that’s the way to do it,” he said.
“Festival passes are available from Horsham Visitor Information Centre and get people into the four events at the soundshell – the Thursday night Bush Balladeers, Friday Tribute Night, Saturday spectacular and Sunday Gospel Music Marathon.
“There are also free events that people might want to combine with shopping in Horsham Plaza or in Horsham’s central business district.
“Local artists will perform in Roberts Place on the Friday from 10am to 4pm and buskers will be in the plaza from 9am to 11.30am.
“If you have the energy you can do the lot.”
Mr Wheaton said the aim of the festival was to encourage people to attend the various events and enjoy themselves.
“Behind the scenes we are all passionate volunteers striving to put on a high-quality event that is only getting bigger and better every year,” he said.
“We have a lot of people coming and we recommend anyone looking for last-minute accommodation to get in touch with the visitor information centre.”
“One of the prime motivations behind why we are supporting the cancer centre project is that in the past 11 years, four committee members have had cancer and three have died” – Lyall Wheaton
SHOW OF SUPPORT: ACE Radio staff, from left, Holly King, Emma Elsom, Andy Heath and Paul Burns, show support for Horsham Country Music Festival from March 22 to 25. ACE Radio sponsors the flagship Country Music Spectacular on the Saturday night....