Guest post: 5 highlights of the 2012 Woodford Folk Festival

Over the years, I’ve visited the Woodford Folk Festival a number of times. It’s my local fest. I live all of 20 minutes down the road from Woodfordia – the sprawling hilly venue that hosts the festival each year.

However, I’ve never before had the joy of immersing myself in the whole festival – a completely different and joyous experience! You lose touch with the ‘real’ world as you spend a week in the magical otherworld that is, simply, Woodford (to the locals).

The festival was overflowing with creativity and joy, and there were so many things to see and do it would take all week to tell you everything.

So, to sum it up, I wanted to share my 5 highlights with you.

1. Knee Deep by Casus

{Photography by Chris Ahern}

Knee Deep by Casus was a breathtaking spectacle of human grace, agilty, strength, humour and skill.

Emma Serjeant, Jesse Scott, Lachlan McAulay and Natano Fa’anana moved together in synchrony in a combination of group and solo performances featuring dance, balance, and aerials.

A modern, thoughtful, and captivating performance, it’s made me want to run away and join the circus. Seriously! I’m now planning to take a course with Vulcana Women’s Circus (based in Brisbane).

2. John Butler Trio

{Photography by Darcie Walsh-White}

In my experience, John Butler and co. always deliver a stand-out live performance. I’ve seen them live four times in the last decade, and each show is as engaging, uplifting and moving as the last.

A genius with a guitar, and with his heart on his sleeve, John played a beautiful set to the enormous crowd on the Saturday night. The highlight was his rendition of his instrumental guitar piece ‘Ocean’, where the man and the instrument merged in a swell of sound and soul.

3. Craft workshops at Artisania

I was thrilled to participate in three craft workshops at Artisania – Wheel Pottery, Nuno Felting, and traditional Russian Belt Weaving. Honestly, the only reason I didn’t do more was because half of them were sold out by midday on Day 1 of the festival, and the rest clashed with must-see performances elsewhere in the fest!

There are many things that make the Woodford Folk Festival unique, and the inclusion of a dedicated creative craft space is one of my favourites. Every possible type of creative expression is honoured and celebrated at Woodford.

4. A visit from the Prime Minister

This year marked the first time a sitting Prime Minister has visited the Woodford Folk Festival. Julia Gillard shared the stage with former Prime Minister Bob Hawke and chatted about topics as diverse as education reform, climate change, and the ups and downs of being the first female PM.

It was the first time I have had the pleasure of seeing the PM speak live, and I was definitely impressed by her diplomacy, panache and sense of humour.

5. The Fire Event

A most spectacular finale, all of the hopes that revellers had shared throughout the festival were put aboard the ship of dreams and set alight to release them to the ether.

I’m going to put it out there (and I know I won’t be alone), 2012 was one of the best – perhaps, possibly, even THE best – Woodford Folk Festival ever.

This snapshot is but a tiny taste of all the colour, creativity and joy that is to be found at Woodfordia each and every year. I’m eagerly awaiting the chance to experience it all over again in December 2013!

My time at the Woodford Folk Festival was thanks to the QFF and Tourism Queensland. All photographs (c) Jess Van Den unless otherwise attributed. Feature shot: Martin Ollman.