7 Myths about the Woodford Folk Festival
Sometimes mums get it wrong. And when it comes to Woodford, mine really goofed up.
Growing up in a country town, my family would collectively snigger when the Woodford Folk Festival rolled up to the nearby hills. To us it was a secret jamboree for society’s odd bods and misfits, a suspicious place full of fairy-loving leprechauns in satin shoes and new-age harp-playing Puks.
“That place is for hippies,” my mum would warn. “They probably have no jobs and smoke weed.”
So after 26 years of fearing the good folk of Woodfordia, I decided to experience it for myself.
Oh Mum, how wrong you were.
Woodford Folk Festival has to be one of Australia’s greatest all-music, all-entertainment events. Between the quality guild stores, the tummy tempting food stalls and the educational outlets proving that yes, you can recycle those plastic shopping bags artistically, the dozen or so big top tents pulsate harder than a Chinese New Year dragon dance. The experience was beyond my imagination.
Moreover, even in the thick of 25,000 people, I didn’t get a whiff of weed once.
So where else did mum get it wrong?
Myth #1: Woodford is an event for teenage fringe dwellers
It’s not. Around me was a cross section of society: Pops, tots, and 20 to 40 somethings. And – if you take off the requisite wacky hat and tie-dyed T-shirts, there were a lot of average blokes and blokettes. Here, people were happy, spontaneous and very respectful of differences. Yep, even the jaunty Irish jiggers were accepted for their derring-do.
Myth #2: Woodford is a fried food fest
Fearing little but the Aussie “sauso” sausage roll, I fuelled up before going in. Big mistake. I missed out on stuffing my pie hole (even more) with scrumptious, healthy, exotic flavours – ranging from gently simmered Middle Eastern tagines through to organic gluten-free brownies – and all served in fantastically themed tents. Seriously, this place should be called the Woodford Folk Feast-ival.
Myth #3: You can just rock up to a headline act
Maybe, but this is serious stuff and the queues for the likes of Kate Miller-Heike and John Butler Trio were long. If you don’t want to sit on the periphery, then get to the tent an hour earlier and stake out your spot. If you’re too late, no worries. Drop by another tent and check out an unplanned act. I landed a box office seat at one of the best blues gigs I’ve seen since spending a week in Memphis.
Myth #4: You can do it in one day
Not possible. Do as those all-knowing hippies (oops, I mean the corporate types with the temporary funny hats, do) and camp. Woodford has an orderly tent city amongst the trees just footsteps from the big tops. What that means, is if you miss Archie Roach the first time around, you can catch him the next day. It also means you can go for the music, but you will get the entire experience.
Myth #5: The toilets are, ahem, “shitty”
Wrong. While they can’t take on the Toto with its warm seats and six shades of power wash, these forest loos left the “bush squat” for dead. There was ample toilet paper, extremely clean facilities and not once did I need the emergency ration roll stuffed in my handbag.
Myth #6: It’s expensive
With adult tickets starting from $115 (this season: Dec 2016), you get more than 12 hours of fun, making it one-third cheaper than a three-hour Bon Jovi ticket. Alternately, grab a six-day season pass on sale for just under $500 and blow out your blues for an extended period.
Myth #7: It’s a personal experience
Absolutely not. Go with a group of friends… Woodford Folk Festival is too good to keep to yourself. And for a fraction of time, you get to escape reality.