National Folk Festival, Day 3
The crowd dance during a performance by the Amazing Drumming Monkeys. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
A weekend of clear skies and younger crowds at this year’s National Folk Festival has led organisers to predict a total crowd attendance close to the 55,000 record set in 2011.
Festival organiser Pam Merrigan said the four-day festival had been blessed with fine autumn weather and positive feedback from attendees regarding its renewed focus on indigenous music and contemporary folk.
“We’ve made a conscious effort to move towards a more contemporary engagement with folk to attract and engage younger crowds at the festival,” she said.
Ms Merrigan said this emerging style of folk music was represented by artists like Kate Fagan, Jordie Lane, the Alaska String Band, Darcy Welsh and Dubmarine.
“These are the new voices of folk music and most of them are in their early 20s,” she said.
Ms Merrigan said the festival had also made a deliberate effort to strengthen the representation of indigenous artists at the festival.
“We’ve had a much bigger indigenous program this year as we strive to be a more representative festival," she said.
"Given that this is our first people’s culture, that’s very important to us.”
But despite the embrace of contemporary folk, Ms Merrigan said the appeal of the music remained the same as always.
“Folk music is not processed like the type of music that goes through the mill with producers,” she said.
“The music is closer to the people who are actually playing the instruments or those who composed the music in the first place.”
Ms Merrigan said performers like Archie Roach, one the most respected Aboriginal singer/songwriters, showed this focus. She also mentioned the nine-piece Queensland outfit Dubmarine, who sampled a mix of club, dancehall, reggae and drum and bass and rock music.
Crowds are still expected to make their way to Exhibition Park on Monday, with a farewell concert and a full schedule of events planned until 11pm.
Those under the age of 17 will be granted free entrance to the festival on Monday in an effort to appeal to families who wished to spend the public holiday together.
Ms Merrigan listed seeing Roach at the festival as her personal highlight but said each person would have his or her own take given the amount of entertainment on offer.
“Just being a part of the five-day village that we have created is a highlight in itself,” she said. “We’re getting to that point on Monday now where we realise that it’s all coming to an end.”
While the official crowd attendance is yet to be declared, Ms Merrigan said she expected the final figure to be between 52,000 and 54,000 people.