Rockers take over Ararat streets
Organisers of Ararat Jailhouse Rock Festival believe the event, which celebrated its 25th birthday in style at the weekend, has a bright future.
The festival was hosted in Ararat’s main street for the first time in three years after being forced onto Alexandra Oval in 2017 and 2018 because of the Ararat Town Hall redevelopment.
The festival, which celebrates 1950s rock ’n’ roll culture, kicked off with a motorsport parade along Barkly Street and a barbecue outside the town hall on Friday afternoon, with music and dancing at Ararat RSL on Friday night.
Grampians Vintage Car Club hosted a car show and street party on Saturday, with 1950s style dances at the town hall and Alexandra Hall on Saturday night.
Festival organisers hosted a fashion parade on Sunday, where attendees voted for the ‘king’ and ‘queen’ of the festival.
Festival president Greg Dalmayer said the return to the streets had been an enormous success.
“It brought a lot of people into the street, both locals and travellers alike,” he said.
“Just the car show on its own brought a lot of interest, so we’re keen to get a show and shine up and running again.
“After it finished we put a poll on Facebook just to see what the response was.
“In the first half-hour we had 50 responses and 48 of those said they wanted a show and shine back in the street next year.
“Next year we’ll look at getting a trophy for the best car and that sort of thing.”
Mr Dalmayer said the festival could continue to thrive well into the future if the weekend was any indication.
“I think there’s a pretty bright future ahead for the event,” he said.
“Basically everyone left saying, ‘we’ll see you next year, great show’.
“People all seemed to think it was a great event, which was really good for us.
“It’s much better having people walking away saying they enjoyed it and they’re coming back rather than saying you got it wrong and they’re never coming back.”
Mr Dalmayer said Ararat’s packed accommodation during the weekend showed the event was a big drawcard for the region.
“There was no accommodation left in the town – everything was booked out,” he said.
“One of the merchants that came for the weekend had to go to Stawell for accommodation, so that gives a fair indication that there was nothing left.”
Mr Dalmayer said organisers would continue to assess the needs of the festival and its patrons to continue improving the event.
“You’ll always get some argument about whether it would be better having it at the top end or the bottom end of the street, but I’m fairly happy with where it was,” he said.
“If we felt like we were going to get overloaded we would look at using other parts of the street.
“It’s small steps, because it’s in a bit of a rebuilding phase.”
CELEBRATION: Helen Andrews and Janine Smith celebrate Ararat’s 25th Jailhouse Rock Festival. Pictures: PAUL CARRACHER