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Woodford Folk Festival to benefit from $4 million infrastructure program
The Woodford Folk Festival, Australia's largest outdoor festival, is to benefit from a multimillion-dollar improvements package following an agreement between the agreement between the Queensland Government, Woodfordia Inc and the Moreton Bay Regional Council.
Announced at the end of last month, the $4 million funding package will be used to refurbish the festival site’s infrastructure and amenities and will include new permanent shower and toilet facilities, waste-water treatment upgrades, improvements to camping and parking areas, and extra additional lighting and public safety upgrades to enhance the festival experience.
Announcing the funding, Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad stated that "Woodford has seen crowd numbers grow year-on-year, pushing this iconic site to the brink.
"This is an investment in the future sustainability of the Woodford site and the environment around it so that it can grow and prosper in line with the 500-year vision for this vibrant site."
"Woodford festival provides employment for hundreds of people each year, and injects tens of millions of dollars into south east Queensland's economy, with the bulk of the money remaining in the Moreton Bay Region.
"There is no doubt the festival is a major contributor to the state's economy. Our investment now ensures the long-term sustainability of this incredible site."
The funding will see 10 kilometres of internal roads on the festival site sealed to suppress the dust at the festival site.
Speaking about the site’s current unsealed roads, Minister Trad added “(they) can wreak absolute havoc on dry, hot days for asthmatics and turn into mud on rainy days.”
Festival Director Bill Hauritz AM said it was the right investment at the right time to ensure the future viability and sustainability of the Woodford Folk Festival.
Hauritz explained “Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has been a good listener and great champion in Government for our festival and we're grateful.
"These funds will strengthen our organisation immensely and, when the infrastructure work is complete, we will be able to deliver an even bigger and better event.
"Earlier this year, we had to announce a ceiling on our ticket sales for our 2017 event because the increases in crowd numbers have been placing extra stress on the site.
"This funding will enable Woodfordia Inc to provide a better experience for our wonderful patrons in future years."
"The festival's success, and its growing patronage, has placed significant pressure on existing facilities, so we're very happy to fund these much-needed improvements."
Organisers of the Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland's south-east had previously admitted that its unique environment and local infrastructure was struggling to cope with its growing crowds, and had set out on a long-term set of controls to reach sustainability.
The six-day festival held annually between Christmas and New Years Eve outside the Queensland Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Woodford grew by a record 5% last year, attracting 132,000 festival-goers.
Changes to the festival will also include a cap on patrons through the gate, the introduction of car restrictions and parking fees.
Hauritz said attendance at the 2016 festival put "a real strain on infrastructure", adding “it was growing too fast for us to handle so we've put a cap on the festival.
"We don't want it to grow beyond that cap. It's something we've had to do."
Hauritz said the not-for-profit six-day festival delivers a profit every year, but the cost of upgrading infrastructure such as roads, amenities and the sewerage system to keep up with growth far exceeds earnings.
He added that if the Festival continued without the changes it would be unsustainable, commenting “if we kept going the way we were going, we were going down the gurgler. So we've had to make this move.”
Under the restructure, tickets will no longer be available at the gate and will be sold online to control the number of patrons attending the festival.
Hauritz said a cap of 22,000 has been introduced for New Years Eve, with Festival organisers then "working backwards".
Along with the price hikes, patron's cars will be restricted and parking fees for campers and day-visitors will also apply.
Hauritz added "we had to face some hard facts about the infrastructure, the vehicle and traffic build up.
"Car passes for season camping will be $70 per vehicle and there will be a limit of one car per site unless there are special circumstances."
A one-time fee of $20 per car will also be introduced for campers and day visitors at a newly-devised car park close to the Festival with buses ferrying patrons to and from the Festival.
Work on the new infrastructure will start early in the New Year.
The Queensland Government also provides funding assistance for Woodfordia through Arts Queensland for the event's Festival of Small Halls program, the Jinibara Aboriginal training and performance program, and the 2017 regional touring funding was provided.
The Woodford Folk Festival takes place over six days and nights every year from 27th December to New Year's Day, featuring a wide range of performance styles, musical genres and nationalities, with artists playing at over 35 different venues within the festival grounds.
The 32nd Woodford Folk Festival program includes 380 acts with performances by John Butler, Kate Miller-Heidke, The Beautiful Girls, Baker Boy and Lior, with 70 speakers including journalist Tracey Spicer, scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, festival regular Bob Hawke and Indigenous lawyer Noel Pearson.
The ABC will also be broadcasting from the site with its New Year's Eve broadcast to be hosted by ABC radio presenter Sheridan Stewart and former Powderfinger drummer, now ABC journalist Jon Coghill.
Images: The Woodford Folk Festival's fire event (top), crowds at the Festival (middle) and Bill Hauritz (below).
26th April 2017 - LOCAL COUNCILS MAKE BIG INVESTMENTS IN TOURISM
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
15th June 2015 - NEW CAMPAIGN TO BOOST TOURISM IN OUTBACK QUEENSLAND TOURISM
27th December 2014 - SIX DAY WOODFORD FOLK FESTIVAL TO ATTRACT MORE THAN 100,000
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