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BEAUFORT STREET FESTIVAL The Wild, The Interesting & The B-Street Shuffle

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The Beaufort Street Festival returns for 2014 this Saturday, November 15. BOB GORDON chats with organisers, Paul Fletcher and Aaron Rutter.

What are the main changes and developments for the Beaufort Street Festival  this year?

Paul Fletcher: This year the focus was on involving the community like never before and we feel the program that has been put together reflects that. From local primary school children creating art projects to the third annual Recipes And Rambling Cookbook – a recipe book with recipes from the Beaufort Street community, involving over 100 volunteers in production alone – there’s an extra local feel this year.

Additionally, based on feedback received on previous years, we’ve increased the amount of shaded areas and relaxed ‘chill-out’ areas off the main street to improve the experience for everyone in attendance.

Describe the Beaufort Street Festival’s evolution since the time you took over it…

PF: I think by the time we had taken the BSF reigns it had started to already make rumbles within WA as a festival that could seriously explode. The Beaufort Street Network, owners of businesses in the area combined with ourselves and The Event Agency have worked exceptionally well together over the last few years to cement a diverse, creative and cultural community event that would showcase what is so great about the area. With the support of the sponsors and the entire community backing this concept, it’s organically grown exponentially into what it is today.

It’s a great musical line-up again this year. What do you bear in mind when it comes to programming the acts for the BSF?  

Aaron Rutter: Whilst we’ve had offers and opportunities to book large scale interstate acts, our sole focus is to stick to great local, Western Australian acts. Many of the bands and artists at Beaufort Street Festival wouldn’t normally get to play in front of such a large crowd and it’s great to be able to give them that opportunity and unearth some local talent while we’re doing it. Aside from that, we want a diverse mixture of acts spread throughout the day catering for all types of music fans, the young and old alike. With a community not-for-profit festival budget, we are extremely grateful to the amazing artists who play for us each year.

What are the main challenges posed in the lead-up to the Beaufort Street Festival?

PF: With such a large scale festival, the logistical behind the scenes workload and planning is enormous – it’s a 12 month project in the making, which surprises a lot of people. Thankfully we have an energetic, young, and experienced team that work with us so the processes are becoming more refined and efficient each year.

Keeping the festival free for punters is a key focus of everyone involved and thus ensuring corporate sponsorship is a challenge each year, but so far we’ve been extremely lucky to have some great corporate and community sponsors that without, the festival simply wouldn’t exist.

What are the main challenges on the day?

PF: We’re extremely diligent when it comes to pre-event preparation due to the pure magnitude of the event, so thankfully everything has run fairly smoothly in the last couple of years. Understandably with the volume of the festival, our main priorities on the day are ensuring pedestrian flow is maintained throughout the festival. In order to combat this we’ve tried to ensure entertainment, stages, stalls and activities are ample on many side streets.

Additionally, as a community event, we rely heavily on our volunteers on the day and without them, the event would struggle! Again, we’ve been very lucky and are thankful for the co-ordination and efforts of all our program directors and volunteer manager who oversee the smooth running of the festival on the day and smoothing out any kinks as they arise!

What was the number in attendance last year and what are you forecasting this year?
PF: Last year 120,000 were in attendance and this year we’re anticipating that figure will grow to 150,000!

Speaking of forecasts, it’s going to be 40-degrees, innit?

PF: To be honest, we would prefer 40-degrees than a rainy, 15-degree day any day. However the weather is always going to be unpredictable but we do what we can to make the day as comfortable as possible for all patrons, as well as stallholders, artists and our staff included. There has always been multiple places to get a bit of respite out of the heat on festival day, but this year we’ve increased the amount of shaded areas and chill out zones.

‘There’s so much going on, I don’t know where to start!’ – what would your advice be to a Beaufort Street Festival patron expressing this dilemma?  

AR: We are planning to do the longest ever Mexican Wave at 4.40pm. And we’re filming it with a remote control helicopter. So that could either work amazingly or terribly. We’ll see. The City of Vincent Community Stage will offer an extensive range of activities on the day. Look out for school groups, exercise sessions, cheerleaders, Bollywood Dancers, the extremely popular dog show and more. The Fresh Provisions Food Stage will be hosting plenty of food presentations and activities, as well as the numerous music stages with the set times being released this week (see below). Our new website is live and running and has all the details and set times for festival day so you can plan the best time to come down and enjoy the day on limited time. Our 18+ bar areas, restaurants and stalls will be open all day and is definitely worth a wander down the street whilst switching between different stages.

What are your hopes for this year’s Beaufort Street Festival… and beyond?

PF:
The Beaufort Street Festival has been developed as a platform for the network to showcase local talent, food, arts, fashion and music. It is a canvas for the community to have a voice and for ideas, concepts and creativity to be shared with everybody in the area; as a playground for all businesses, sponsors, local artists and the community to come to join in the fun! We hope to continue to establish a strong community foundation which we can develop over the years to come. And for all businesses, local communities and residents to look forward to and for us to strive to do bigger and better with our resources, staff and what we learn from previous years, with each festival.

For more details, head to beaufortstreetfestival.com.au. 

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