By Nicole Hegarty.
Woodford Folk Festival organisers have taken a novel approach in a bid to reduce the prevalence of drugs at music festivals.
Woodford Folk Festival director Bill Hauritz said his goal was to create a festival with such a unique culture that attendees “don’t need anything to get off”.
Mr Hauritz said the approach had proven to be a success with only one reported drug overdose last year.
“We first of all advertise and make it a condition of entry on every ticket purchase that illegal drugs will not be tolerated,” Mr Hauritz said.
“We’ve tried to not turn into police over the years, we tried to build a culture, which is first unwelcoming in terms of the word-of-mouth of people who are there, that it’s not looked upon kindly.
“I think that there’s a will for there not to be drug busts, therefore a will not to carry drugs.”
Mr Hauritz said the festival had flourished in the absence of drugs, with 3.5 per cent of visitors coming from overseas for the festival.
“The key to our success has been … spending money on creating a festival experience,” Mr Hauritz said.
He said pre-sale ticket predictions indicated an increase of 12.5 per cent from last year’s total attendance of 124,000.
“We are at the moment in the process of having completed our festival program and having booked around 420 acts to perform on 24 stages over the six days of the festival,” Mr Hauritz said.
“The 24 stages will host in total around 1500 events in that six-day period.”
Mr Hauritz said the range of events on offer at the festival had helped to set it apart.
“You have a whole week-long experience at Woodford getting enmeshed in all sorts of things, from comedy to spoken word, from politics to environmental issues, as well as what we think is the snapshot of the best poets, writers and musicians and singers in the country,” Mr Hauritz said.
Enthusiastic long-time supporter Carla Voss said Woodford Folk Festival truly was a one-of-a-kind experience.
“There are not too many music festivals where there aren’t any festival idiots, Woodford doesn’t have any,” Mrs Voss said.
“Anyone can get involved, they can be in the opening or closing festival, join in with choreography or make paper lanterns.
“It’s quite an art putting together what you want to see [from the program] because you miss so much.”
By Nicole Hegarty.