Country Music Heaven in Mildura

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Country Music Heaven in Mildura

Classed as one of the biggest country music festivals in Australia, the Mildura Country Music Festival is back, showcasing over 80 independent artists across 10 days. We chat to festival coordinator John Arnold.

This will be the Mildura Music Festival’s 30th year. How has it changed since the very first one?
The festival started as a one day event. It then grew into a 10 day event with about 20 artists. The festival is much more complex now. There are now over 80 artists and it brings together Independent Country Music Artists from all over Australia who apply with us.

Having been ranked alongside Tamworth Country Music Festival and the Gympie Muster as one of the big three country music festivals, what is it that you think sets it apart from other country music festivals?
Each festival has their own character. At Mildura, all of the artists are independent, which means they must have financed their own CD product. All the artists selected by the festival and allocated to the venues. I have seen almost all artists perform before they are selected and it is very competitive with over 200 applications. The secret to its success is that all venues get an equal opportunity to have artists perform at their venue and entry to the venues is almost all free.

The festival runs across 10 days with many performances, while a lot of other festivals run over a weekend. Why does this model work so well for this particular festival?
The shows are all varied across the 25 venues on both sides of the river. A backing band and five to seven artists are on presented shows and perform about 20-25 minutes each. This gives a lot of variety and means a fan can go to the same venue over the 10 days and see all the artists on the program. Mildura is really a promotional festival for up and coming new artists and we try to have about 18 new faces very festival.

You will most likely have people driving thousands of kilometres to attend. What else should they experience in Mildura while in town?
Many of the visitors are travelling in their own vans so they can relax and enjoy the great spring weather. Paddle Boat cruises, first class restaurants and the district is a large wine producer. There are many Farmers Markets as part of the festival and the district has many first class golf courses and attractions. We say that Mildura is Country Music heaven in spring.

The independent factor of the festival is great for the country music industry. How do you think this inspires and influences those who take part?
The Festival has helped launch a lot of artists into a career in Country Music. The Southern Stars Award – The Australian Country Music Awards are the jewel in the crown, which recognises the achievements of independent artists. There are eight judged categories and the Australian Independent Artists of the year. There is also an artist product table in the Mall every day that merchandises the artists products. Popular major artists like Catherine Britt, Adam Harvey, Kasey Chambers and Dianna Corcoran came to Mildura in the early days of their careers.

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When & Where: Various venues, Mildura – September 23 – October 2