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Woodford Folk Festival draws record crowd as organisers look to event management overhaul
With fine weather, top performances and a range of spectacular experiences, the 2016 Woodford Folk Festival experienced record attendance of its six days operations over the New Year period, with attendance rising by 5% on previous years.
The six-day festival finished in spectacular style on 1st January, with its signature fire event involving a cast of 150 volunteers and 800 festival patrons parading lanterns and giant puppets.
The central theme of the performance - humanity coming together amid chaos - is a universal one, according to festival founder Bill Hauritz.
Following the success of this 31st staging of the Festival, the theme of a community holding strong is to be continued in the years to come as plans take shape for an overhaul of the event's organisational structure.
Hauritz (pictured below) stated “we've had a group in excess of 200 organisers, 154 department heads, and those people manage the nearly 3,000 volunteers involved each year.
"We're now in our third generation of volunteers and we've become aware that we need to make space, that there's other ways to contribute other than being a volunteer or department head."
In 2017 festival patrons will be invited to become citizens of Woodfordia in the form of membership, Hauritz said, and will form a parliament of sorts that will create a vision for the festival's future.
He told the ABC "there's a wonderful loyal sense of ownership by patrons.
"We're calling it a parliament in the literal sense of the word - where people who feel that sense of belonging can become a member and have voting rights in our democratic process."
Membership fees will help pay for publication of a quarterly newsletter and entitle its citizens to a Woodfordia ‘passport’.
Hauritz said the changes will "take a couple of years to play out" but the strength in numbers they will create will carry the festival through any hard times the weather - and consequent financial downturns - may throw at the it in years to come.
For now, Hauritz and his team are basking in the success of this year's festival.
He concluded “it's been better than any expectation we had going in.
"We were always optimistic, but the build this year was difficult because we had pushed the boundaries on our visual arts and construction, we had changes to the layout and organisational structure changes.
"We were all hurting and a bit tired before it even started, but this year's patrons have been the best behaved we've ever had.
"There's been absolutely no rubbish on the streets and every single person respected the three minutes' silence we observe on New Year's Eve.
1st December 2016 - WOODFORD FOLK FESTIVAL ACHIEVES RECORD EARLY BIRD TICKET SALES
25th August 2016 - FINALISTS ANNOUNCED FOR THE AUSTRALIAN EVENT AWARDS
30th December 2015 - WOODFORD FOLK FESTIVAL CELEBRATES 30TH ANNIVERSARY
27th December 2014 - SIX DAY WOODFORD FOLK FESTIVAL TO ATTRACT MORE THAN 100,000
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