It was only a few weeks ago that fires threatened the Alpine Valleys and surrounding regions, including the grounds where Funkfest is being held, Feathertop Winery.
However, the organisers are pushing ahead, deciding to stay put and support their local community.
When asked whether there was doubt the festival would have to be cancelled, organiser Paul “Blue” Hughes responded, “Yeah, we did consider that. I was near Mount Hotham and was evacuated on the first of January. Then a few days after that, the area where the festival is being held near Bright was also put on evacuation, which meant around 12,000 tourists had to leave.
“So, it was touch and go,” Hughes admits. “We looked at options; we looked at relocating or cancelling but ultimately we thought, ‘Well the community has supported us up to this point and they need the help now’.
“So we decided to stay put and push ahead.”
Thankfully, none of the area actually got burnt. It was the speed and unpredictable nature of the winds that threatened the fire to reach the area, which made it an extremely dangerous situation a few weeks prior.
The region surrounding, however, was hit hard economically. The local area is normally packed out just after Christmas due to the school holidays, with eight to ten caravan parks completely booked out. However, with the evacuations, everyone had to leave.
“Most of that area gets six months of their income from that two months of the year,” Hughes explains.
So, with this in mind, Hughes decided to go ahead with Funkfest and bring people back to the area.
“It’s not just us and the winery but also the accommodation services, food and beverage operators that are coming to the festival and the hirer company is a local company.
“We wanted to stay and try and bring some income back into those people’s pockets.”
On top of this, the festival will also have buckets going around for the local CFA and any CFA volunteer can attend the event for free. “We want the fundraising to go to the local area. We want to make sure the money gets directly to the people who saved our town basically,” Hughes says.
Not only will the festival provide places for people to put their cash towards helping those affected by the fires, but it’s also going to put on an incredible time.
“We’re got some amazing bands lined up,” Hughes says with excitement. “Headlining on the Friday is a Sydney band called The Goods, a sort of urban slow-style funk. On Saturday night, we have double headliners, Vaudeville Smash and The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra. They both put on incredible live shows.
“Then on Sunday, we’ve got our soul Sunday that’s headlined by Alice Skye and Thando. We’re also supporting local artists, so we’ve got Liv Cartledge who’s a local muso up here, and we’ve got Mark Hogg performing.”
Plus, there’ll be plenty of great food and beverage vendors to keep your lips wet and belly full. The beer will be especially crisp, as local brewery Bright Brewery are supporting the event.
And if you want to go a little bit fancier, there’s VIP packages available that include a full weekend ticket, glamping accommodation, all your meals, a drinks card, a merch pack and access to VIP areas and exclusive events, such as VIP musical breakfast and special after-parties.
Finally, if you’ve got little ones and are worried about keeping them entertained while you groove, there’s no need to stress as there’ll be a kids section both at the festival and the winery. What’s more, kids under 16 get a free ticket to the event.
Funkfest hits Feathertop Winery, Porepunkah in the Alpine Valleys from Friday February 14 to Sunday February 16. Find out more and grab tix via funkfest.com.au.