Having stocked up on essential provisions such as wine and beer, we settled in at the folk festival. There are about 55,000 people who visit it over the 5 days, and most of them seemed to be camping next to us! However you soon get to know your neighbours and everybody helps each other out. The opening night concert was held in Budawang, which holds about 1,500 and it was packed. The next 4 days have been a whirl of music, songs and dancing. There are about 12 venues going continuously and it is impossible to see all the groups that interest you, so you just ‘go with the flow’. We did catch up with some old favourites, such as Margaret Roadknight, The Bushwackers, Wongawilli and The Larrikins. As it was the 45th anniversary festival, they also had a tribute concert for the musicans that played at the first festival, including Phyl Lobyl, who is one of our neighbours. But this is not just a nostalgia trip – it was great to see so many young people here, enjoying the music and playing on stage. It is a fantastic atmosphere just walking around, with lots of interesting stalls and street theatre, including our old favourite – Campbell the Swaggie. Peter is now on the organising committee for the Illawarra Folk Festival and was full of admiration for the way this festival runs so smoothly, with no hitches so far. He has been attending the early (frosty) morning sessions with his autoharp; while still a beginner, he enjoys playing in a group (Heather thinks it’s because it drowns his awful playing).
On Tuesday, we set off for our volunteer role – cleaning up after the festival. While not a challenging role, it gave us the opportunity to enjoy the festival without rushing off to do a volunteer duty. After another exciting day of cleaning up, we caught up with Jon, an old friend of Peters, who shared a house with him in Armidale. Jon has had an eventful life and is now enjoying his retirement by playing in a blues band.