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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

The magic that is the Cobargo Folk Festival

It takes a village to raise a child, the saying goes. It takes the small village of Cobargo, and some surrounding areas, to raise an amazing music festival.

Above: If you have ever wondered just who organises the Cobargo Folk festival, here's a fabulous photo of some of the many hundreds of volunteers who give so much of their time and energy to bring the Cobargo Folk Festival alive! Without their contribution we wouldn't have a festival. Grateful thanks to Ben Marden for this top shot.

Now heading into its 25th year, it is nothing short of astonishing that a village of less than 800 people can put on an international quality show, with over 60 acts – local, Australian and overseas- for three days each March and inject nearly $2 million dollars into the economy.

That’s the value that the Government’s tourist body puts on the Festival.

With an aggregate attendance of around 6000 people, a lot of work is needed to ensure everyone is fed and watered, has comfortable camp sites and have an enjoyable time, whether they’re into music, jamming along at workshops and in campsites, or lovers of dance and spoken word.

Planning for each festival begins within weeks of the last one, with a whole day debrief analysing what worked well, what went wrong and what can be improved.

The festival financed and overseen by the Yuin Folk Club committee, whose 12 member are Far South Coast locals. A few committee members, like myself, Yuin treasurer and Festival Executive Director, Zena Armstrong, and Performer Liaison Manager Carolyn Griffin, have extensive experience of working on other larger Festivals.

Committee member Coral Vorbach and her partner Graeme Fryer, have invaluable experience of running the festival over about 19 of the past 24 years.

Our site manager, the indefatigable, Alfredo Le Caprara, has also worked at other folk festivals in NSW and has unparalleled knowledge of the workings of the Cobargo Showground.

Without the good will and support of the Cobargo Showground Trust and the Cobargo Show Society, the festival wouldn’t happen.

Each year, we work with these bodies to improve the site – spending money this year on a new two door fridge for the bar, a new cool room, doubling the size of our storage shed and levelling more of the showground site to make room for more camping.

The artistic side of the festival has been handled in recent years by well known local musician and music teacher Dave Crowden from Brogo. This was Dave’s last year in this position and we thank him enormously for his work over the years.

Each year, the festival receives close to 450 applications from around Australia and overseas for the 30 or so acts. Added to that, Dean and Annette Turner host over 40 youth acts at the Crossing Stage, a place where stars like Daniel Champagne first honed their skills.

The Festival itself is run by an organising team of 30 team leaders, taking in everything from searching for an looking after the 350 volunteers; parking; camping construction; security; patron services; stage management and MC’ing; waste disposal (an amazing job done by the Cobargo Scouts); catering; stalls; site management; site decoration and much more.

Listing individuals would take up way too much space, but I’d like to single out for special mention our new construction team lead by Harry Binnendijk and Steve McDonald, who stepped up to fill the giant shoes left by the retirement of staging legend Reg Dew.

The village of Cobargo itself steps up each year to help and deserves our greatest thanks. Everyone from the local police, the new General Store, the Post Office and the Coop, the cafes and shops deserves our thanks.

As the festival has grown over the years, community involvement and engagement has grown with it.

And now for the 25th, being held on February 28th to March 1. If you’d like to get involved, contact us through our website

It really is something very special.

Enjoy the slideshow above of images captured by volunteer photographer, Sabine Friedrich

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