Just as the 70’s style fringed waistcoats, worn denim cut offs and flowers-in-your-carefully-tousled-hair have been appropriated by today’s next generation of career festival goers, it’s hard not to feel like the idea of a festival itself has been consumed by media and corporations. Long gone are the days of peace, love, good vibes and better music – or at least these seem to be only available under the carefully constructed aegis of major drinks sponsors and corporate programming.
That’s a pretty down opening, sorry. And it’s not to say that music festivals are done for; merely that the true festival ethos sometimes seems a little diluted these days across the most popular events. At my most cynical I’d say one part music mixed in with four parts overpriced alcohol, courtesy of the brand that proudly presents this overgrown party for your enjoyment. Which results in one hell of hangover.
But on my less bitter days, I’m genuinely hyped for the sheer brilliance of the smaller festivals and bush doofs lovingly executed for music loving party types all around Australia. I mean, when you’re handed the kind of beautiful expanses of open land and festival friendly weather that Australia boasts, why wouldn’t you?
Do you hate festival dickheads? Then Blenheim Music and Camping Festival will be your haven this Easter weekend. Sun, booze, tunes and a skate ramp, what more could you want?
And this March, Good Friday to be fittingly precise, we’re looking forward to the seventh incarnation of a festival that has never forgotten it’s true ethos. Blenheim Music and Camping Festival, in Clare Valley, SA, will once again open it’s camping grounds for a real good time, courtesy of a team of dedicated friends, local support and an ethos so exemplary it would make Bono smile.
Blenheim Fest originally sprung up around the sensible decision that the only way to get through the bleak winter on 2009, was with the help of a skate ramp. The only snag being the complete lack of skate ramps in Blenheim. A minor problem, which was solved by three months of hard work and building skills learned on the fly. Six years later, this same ramp stands proud (and impressively solid) at the heart of the festival that sprung up around it.
With a few more renovations and moderations, the inaugural Blenheim Fest happened in 2010. A private event with three DJs, a generator run PA system and a good amount of friends. After a good start, the festival founders decided to open it’s gates, and it’s good vibes, to the wider public in 2012.
The same values remain at the heart of Blenheim Fest; privately run and locally supported, as well as being a not-for-profit festival. No one involved receives any payment, and all funds raised are donated to Non-Government Organisation, New Hope Cambodia. Since 2010, Blenheim Fest has donated just under $50,000 to the charity, which includes all funds from patrons.
The money raised is put towards helping provide “hope, dignity and promise to the people of Cambodia”. Helping play a vital role in combating poverty, ill health and various crises, the organisation offers education and training programs as well as access to health care, run by volunteers.
More recently the festival announced that “Blenhiem Fest is also looking to support local Clare Valley charities and recently donated to a local charity, Help Us to Help Others“. The charity helps to provide medical, academic and practical support within communities. And the funds donated by Blenheim Fest were used to purchase a portable oxygen concentrator, which will provide someone suffering from lung disease the freedom to move about the community again.
More information on the charities, and an opportunity to play dress up with garments sewn by the New Hope sewing team, will be available at the festival. Along with further opportunities to enjoy fine food, arts initiatives and, we’re assured, plenty of cold beer from local and sustainable businesses – all amidst “rolling hills, luscious vineyards and drystone walls”. And sound-tracking the party, Blenheim Fest promises both international and Aussie bands across two stages, a hay bale amphitheatre and, apparently, a massive gum tree. So if you like your music ethically sourced and in a sylvan setting… look no further.
This year Blenheim Fest has confirmed appearances from Melbourne buskers turned internationally touring outfit, the Pierce Brothers. Their appearance at the festival will be part of their Australian tour to promote their latest EP, Into The Dirt.
The festival organisers have warned us to expect “on-stage backflips, brotherly banter and mischief” from the siblings. Also another hirsute act, in the form of The Beards. These facially furred legends will likewise be touring Australia this year – as a farewell tour to mark their realised achievements for the pro-beard movement, through the medium of live music.
Also topping the listing is the decidedly smoother (in more ways than one) Kylie Audist, who will be bringing her soulful sounds to BlenheimFest. Other highlights promised from the line up are Jesse Davidson, one to watch and the vocalist on Japanese Wallpaper’s Between Friends, SA’s own sweetheart Louise Adams, also new kids on the block Ollie English and Flamingo. Plus a load more throughout the day.
There is one thing that won’t be appearing at Blenheim Fest however. And that is dickheads. Due to Blenheim Fest’s excellent and revolutionary No Dickhead Policy. Working on the basis that dickhead behaviour is not admired, Blenheim Fest explains that “This is a self-policing policy, where in the event that someone slips up momentarily, a solid citizen will quietly and politely point out that their behaviour fits into the “Dickhead” category, and that will be the end of it. If someone chooses not to listen to the solid citizen and acts like a real dickhead, they will spend the rest of the event sitting next to a security guard or dealing with police and will be prohibited from buying a ticket to future events.”
Blenheim Fest number seven will take place on Friday March 25, running throughout Friday afternoon and into Saturday morning. Tickets are now on sale for the event and can be purchased through the festival’s website. Festival entry includes, not only some excellent music and booze, but all your camping mod cons. Plus that warm fuzzy feeling you get from doing something good for the world. And all that on top of your festival high. Dickheads need not apply.