Monday, April 12, 2010

No festival blues

We have just returned from the Fairbridge Folk Festival. Looking through the photos I took, I notice that not one has a picture of any of the performers. Wondering about this, I realised that it is because Fairbridge is much more than music.
Every year since 1993, at Fairbridge Farm School, 100 kms south of Perth, music lovers have come together for a weekend of music, dance, street theatre, good food and heaps of fun.  The 5000 people who camp in the cow paddocks and on the oval or stay in the old school buildings are joined daily by up to 10,000 more day visitors, depending on the weather.

What is special to me is that this is such a safe event for families. From grandma in her deluxe caravan to the kids sleeping in their swags under the stars, all ages are catered for, and the growing number of young adults who have attended since they were tiny now have areas with events that cater for them. 
Each year there is something that doesn’t go quite to plan - it’s often the weather. Two years ago a sudden downpour literally washed a lot of tents down the hillside and filled others with mud. Last year the portaloos were in meltdown, unable to cope with the crowds. This year we had a fierce easterly wind arrive in the middle of the night to cause havoc. Tents were down, awnings flapping; no one got much sleep and woke to everything covered in yet another layer of dust.

Surprisingly, amongst all those tired people, I saw no evidence of bad temper. The evening before, some of the younger crew had been playing some loud music and their neighbours had bribed them with a whole packet of Tim Tams to get them to shut up (which they happily admitted when they wandered over to see what was happening at our camp.) The many small children around the place were watched for by everyone and there was only one child lost its’ parents for a short while. That is the easy camaraderie of camping.

The children who busk around the market stalls, more each day as they proudly show off the new skills they have learnt in workshops; the humility of the Burundi Childrens' Choir, so grateful to be welcomed to Fairbridge and to Australia; the Giant Seagulls, gently pecking the hand of a disabled girl and the men helping to push a wheelchair over the gravel, it is the small acts at Fairbridge restore my faith in human beings.

Oh, the music was amazing too!
Happy camping,

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