For a small country town of something like 550 residents, Boolarra punches above its weight when it comes to attracting music lovers from around Australia to its award winning annual folk festival.
First held in 2003 in Railway and Centenary Parks, the free all-day music event is accompanied by a large arts, craft and produce market. Visitors from far and wide are attracted by its relaxed and friendly atmosphere, fantastic live music and the opportunity to discover the work of many local artisans.
Planning for the 2021 Boolarra Folk Festival is well underway but this time it will look very different. The festival on 27 and 28 February will be ‘virtual’ due to the ongoing health concerns created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though it is still six months away, a call had to be made, according festival committee president, Rick Teychenne.
“Covid 19 in our world has made it impossible to hold our regular outdoor festival in 2021,” he said.
“The Boolarra Folk Festival Committee’s decision to change the format is all about the safety of our audiences and communities.
“Other festivals have taken similar approaches, with the Melbourne Jazz, Melbourne Comedy and also the Morwell International Rose Festivals going virtual. We thought we could do this as well.
“Keeping music live during these tough times is important for our health and wellbeing, and we need to assist our communities and musicians by presenting a new approach,” Mr Teychenne said.
The 2021 Festival will stream live to the world with selected musicians who have performed over the last 18 years, hosted by a “special and well-known presenter.”
The Committee will also look at innovative ways to promote the market stall holders and community groups that have made been a major part of previous festivals.
The 2021 Festival will support local musicians, and video, sound and lighting engineers, as they have not been able to work due to Covid 19.
“Having the wonderful support of our dedicated Festival Committee and our valued sponsors provides us with the confidence to plan for a new format in 2021,” Mr Teychenne said.
“It will be really exciting to explore new ways of developing next year’s Festival, and we will learn a lot from other festivals that are using similar approaches.
“We have a lot to do to present the next Boolarra Folk Festival and we will endeavour to bring another free festival to our audiences on the 27th of February 2021.”