The Woodford Folk Festival has announced a cap on the number of attendees as well as increasing ticket prices for this year’s festivities.
By Caitlin Archbold
Produced for online by Natalie O’Brien
The annual, week-long music and arts festival held in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland over the New Year has been growing in popularity over the past 33 years.
This year, in an effort to ensure sustainability, the number of people who can attend will be capped and ticket prices will go up.
Festival director Bill Hauritz says the move is in response to a steep growth in numbers over the past few years.
According to him, increased revenue is needed to build more infrastructure to ensure patrons stay comfortable.
“The pressure on our infrastructure is greater than our ability to invest in it,” he says.
Mr Hauritz says he does not rule out the possibility of lifting the cap when more infrastructure is built, but until then numbers need to be restricted.
“We need to work into the future but be with a controlled growth, rather than when it’s uncapped, anything can happen, and we need to move out of that sphere,” he says.
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford supports the move, saying the festival needs to evolve to maintain the beauty of the area.
“The load on the place was just so enormous that it actually sort of impacted negatively on the overall experience,” Mr Latchford says.
Woodford continues to receive record numbers while most other festivals are struggling.
“If you look at any other music festival nationally, let alone in the state of Queensland, most of them either don’t exist anymore or they’re significantly smaller in number,” he says.
Mr Latchford is concerned increased numbers will impact on people’s experience and commends the organisers for adapting.
“The organisers have obviously had the courage and the vision to say you know what, it’s great that they’re doing so well, but this is in danger of being loved to death,” he says.
Repeat festival goer Sam Pitman says he has seen a gradual change in the relaxed and inclusive vibe as more people attend.
While he supports the cap on numbers, Mr Pitman is concerned the increased prices may lock some people out and damage the spirit of Woodford.
“I think a lot of what contributed to that vibe are people who are not necessarily loaded with cash to go and see a festival,” he says.
But Mr Hauritz says the prices are there to ensure the festival continues, and encourages people who cannot afford the cost to volunteer.
“We’re charging it not to make a lot of money but rather to make sure we continue into the future,” he says.
Other changes include parking fees which aim to reduce traffic and in turn, reduce carbon emissions.