In 2000, a brand-new festival in a tiny town at the foothills of The Otways was launched. Attracting around 500 visitors in its first year, it was created to lift the spirits of locals and give city dwellers a chance to experience the heart and soul of country life.
Birregurra Festival and Art Show is not-for-profit volunteer run event and is the major source of fundraising for local community groups in Birregurra. The Festival occurs in the town’s main street, in Birregurra Park, in and around Birregurra Hall and in properties adjacent to the main street. The festival has grown from humble beginnings into an important date on the state’s calendar attracting over 15,000 people from around the state. Lauded for its affordability, it’s one of the few events in the state where families can enjoy a fun filled day out for little more than a gold coin donation each as the music program and many of the activities are free. Across the festival, local traders showcase their offerings and community groups such as the Primary School, Kindergarten, Football and Netball Club, Historic Society, Landcare, Lions Club, Tennis Club, Recreation Reserve and Men’s Motor Enthusiast group fundraise for their own activities.
On Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th of October this year, that same little volunteer run event, Birregurra Festival and Art Show, turns 20, with over 15,000 visitors expected to visit from all over the state of Victoria.
To celebrate, organisers have pulled out all the stops. The 2019 program features more than 20 live music acts across three stages along with a host of exciting new activities on top of everything you’ve come to expect from the much-loved Festival – all for the very budget friendly sum of a gold coin donation.
Shaking things up with a new stage-side bar as well as a youth quarter for teenagers, the diverse and packed 2019 music line-up spans genres that everyone can enjoy from country and folk to Afro jazz and pop. Saturday’s upbeat program features space-pop upcomers Zoe Fox and the Rocket Clocks – headlining alongside country folk artists Cookie Baker and Kerryn Fields, Splendour in the Grass alumni Ben Whiting, and Geelong’s own funk rockers The Run. Sunday’s program aims to soothe the soul with the heart beating rhythms of funk jazz virtuosos The Senegambian Jazz Band as well as Lucy and the Night Sky, Colac lads The Attics, OMM Community Choir and Festival favourites the Mik Maks.
Festival music organiser, Fiona Brandscheid, is very excited with the addition of a youth hang out zone in The Yards next to Birregurra Hall on Saturday in partnership with FReeZA. Urban street artist, Damian Arena, will be live painting a mural designed by Birregurra students as a youth stage features local FReeZA talent playing alongside Melbourne hip hop artist, Nomad, young multi-instrumentalist Daniel Aaron and folk funk experimentalist, Torii. On Sunday, the same space plays host to more music with Sam Hanson, Way Out West, and Birregurra’s own Running with Zithers and Birregurra Celtic Group.
This year’s Festival also includes more family friendly activities including a reptile show (Saturday), laser tag (Sunday) and a kids circus show as well annual Festival favourites such as the art show, rock’n’roll dancers, vintage cars, dog jump, animal nursery, kids games fair, cow pat lotto and the wood chop. Along with a over 100 arts, craft and garden stalls, the food and wine quarter will be jam packed with global flavours as well as local wineries, distillers and breweries – with live music from Tom Tuena and The Hip Replacements entertaining visitors in the area each afternoon from 2.30pm.
Inaugural Festival organiser, Julie Stark, reflects on why the entirely volunteer run event has been so successful.
“My concept was I wanted city slickers to come and experience country life for the weekend and give an opportunity where local organisations can fundraise. It’s a generous weekend with lots to do for free and it gives the locals a sense of confidence about where they live. I’m absolutely delighted.”
Birregurra is located 40 minutes’ drive from Geelong and visitors can catch V/Line’s Warrnambool line direct to Birregurra from Melbourne or Geelong. The festival hours are 10.00am to 5pm on Saturday 12th October and 10.30am to 4pm Sunday 13th October. The Birregurra Art Show Gala Opening is on Friday 11th October at 7.30pm.
WHERE: Birregurra, VIC, Australia
- Melbourne – 90mins
- Geelong – 45mins
- Great Ocean Road – 30mins
- Warrnambool – 90mins
- Ballarat – 70mins
- Colac – 15mins
WHEN: 12-13 October (Art show Gala opening 11 October, 7.30pm)