Set in the beautiful historical town at the foothills of the Otways, the Birregurra Festival and Art Show – now in its 19th year – continues to support the community, with all money raised going straight back into it and becoming one of the state’s ‘must visits’ with over ten thousand people expected to attend.
With high quality musicians from the area and further afield, delectable food and wine from the Otways region and a smorgasbord market of arts, crafts and local products over the weekend, this festival has celebrating community life at the heart of it and is looking to be the best one yet.
“Our festival is a big deal for the community” says Festival Director Vicki Jeffrey. “It’s not‐for‐profit and volunteer run, and is the major source of fundraising for local community groups. Just about every local business and resident has a role to play and visitors to the festival have a wonderful experience and can see the enormous effort put in. Even Dan Hunter’s Brae Restaurant in Birregurra, voted No. 58 in the world, has donated dinner for two for the raffle.”
The standout quality this year is the diverse bunch of talented performers who will entertain the crowds throughout the weekend. In what’s set to be a music-lovers treat, the festival will see three stages of great live music including electrifying funk-rock riffs from Forté favourites The Kite Machine and Cat Leahy’s Melbourne based super duo This Way North heading up Saturday’s main stage.
You’ll also catch local alternative rock band Hold//Fire bringing a melting pot of heavy rock, alternative and punk influences to the stage, and our darling local artist Rach Brennan and her band ‘The Pines’ who will put on a captivating display of catchy melodies and four-part harmonies.
That’s barely scraping the surface of the musical talent to grace the stages this year. Making the most of all the hidden musical gems the region has to offer, the Festival Entertainment coordinator Andy Forssman has put together a diverse live music line-up that rivals many of its regional and even some its metropolitan counterparts.
Offering visitors a unique chance to see some of the great talent from the local area, there will also be performances from Melbourne-based songwriter Nat Vazer, Nancie Schipper, Melbourne duo Jack The Fox, Murray McDonald from Cororooke is the lead singer and guitarist of punk band Japan For, Jess Skye, Lorne rockers Dr Sayers and the Other Guys and Victorian Blues, Jazz and Soul band Moonshine Blues.
There’s even the OMM Kids Rock Choir who re-interpret classic rock anthems through performances that are energetic, unforgettable and relevant to people of all ages and kid’s entertainment dynamos The Mik Maks who have been wowing their young audiences all over the country with their catchy country rock tunes, along with the beloved regulars Orchestral Manouvres in the Marsh, Birregurra Ukelele Collective, Colac Rock n Rollers and Colac & District Pipe Band.
It’s not just the music that is drawing the crowds. Each year, the main street transforms into a vibrant market place selling all sorts of goodies from handcrafts to organic produce and loads of garden plants and displays. You’ll find everything from temporary tattoos, juggling equipment, books, beads and chains, to jewellery, candles, doggie treats, leather goods, and everything in between. There’s also plenty for the kids to do with face painting, an animal nursery and carnival rides.
Whether you are an advanced foodie or just enjoy eating, there will be something new and enticing for you to devour within the festival’s gourmet food and wine precinct; bringing together the best of Otways produce and wineries with casual eateries and innovative food trucks for two days of foodie heaven. It’s the perfect place to relax with friends after some serious romping around the festival and kick back with a few local brews, vinos or gin as you indulge in an international array of cuisines.
It’s the Birregurra Art Show however which will mark the official start of the festival with a gala event held on Friday 12 October. With a prize pool of over $11,000, the art show is one of the most prestigious in the country regionally regularly attracts over 300 high-quality artworks from around the country which will be on display in the Birregurra Hall and provides visitors the perfect opportunity to start or add to their own original art collection.
That’s not all though. The Birregurra Festival and Art Show is more than just the music and the art; it’s also a showcase of volunteer power and community commitment. With momentum snowballing since being selected for Regional Arts Victoria’s Small Town Transformation program in 2016, the community has installed state of the art audio and visual technology, created a architecturally designed landscape, collaborated with artists and installed several public art installations, installed renewable energy sources, increased accessibility and given the community hub a considerable freshen up, along with securing more than $700,000 in federal, state and local government funding and private grants to improve their historical Mechanics Institute hall. This year’s Birregurra Festival will be the first opportunity for the small community of less than 800 to proudly show off what a bit of passion and thousands of hours of hands on commitment can achieve.
They say a gold coin doesn’t get you all that much in life any more, but in the Birregurra Festival and Art Show world it gains you access to the whole weekend of entertainment.
The Birregurra Festival and Art Show in on the second weekend of October (13 & 14) and runs from 10am to 5pm. Check out all the details at www.birregurrafestival.com/