Coun­try fes­ti­val hits the mark

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

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.”

Com­mu­nity

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....

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