October 11th, 2021CresFest: A new style festival in an old style town
NEWLYN resident, fundraiser and musician Judy Turner was coming to the end of a contract with Sovereign Hill, when an epiphany occurred – what better thing to do in retirement than to start a new festival, right here in beautiful Creswick?
Having played at most folk festivals across Australia and New Zealand, Judy felt that bringing the music home would be something she could do for the town, for the wide community of musicians she is part of and, frankly, for herself. Turner said her husband and musical partner, songwriter Neil Adam, quickly came on board.
“Retirement per se didn’t appeal to us and we had been in the district for 10 years and had often observed that Creswick seemed to be waiting for something,” Judy said.
Judy described the wait for the new supermarket (now the fabulous IGA), the wait for something to happen at Pascoe’s (HG & Sons), and the wait for the British Hotel to take on a new identity (still to come).
“People are amazingly patient but we realised that in a decade of living here we had only been to the lovely old town hall once, to see an Anzac Day concert. We were impatient to see it open and filled with music and dancing again.”
And it struck her that Creswick could also be a town waiting for a festival.
She looked around at all the wonderful old buildings, each one treasured in its own way by a club or society or community group, and each one underused.
“We had never seen the town thronging with people and as musicians we thought, what better way to bring in a crowd than to program a whole weekend of music.”
Having run concerts out of their house for four years, Judy, pictured below, and Neil were aware of the great interest locally in live music.
Having identified local groups interested in collaborating (Creswick Theatre Company and Creswick Folk Club) and secured the support of Creswick Neighbourhood Centre, Judy and the committee agreed upon the name CresFest, the dates, April 1-3 2022 and they were away.
The committee hopes a hybrid ticketing model will bring the crowds from out of town and encourage locals to take volunteer roles.
And the aim is to fill every venue including the town hall, the courthouse, Leavers Hotel, The American, the Masonic Lodge and the Neighbourhood Centre.
Headline acts include Emma Donovan, Eric Bogle and Fools and there are plenty of ways for locals to get involved too with a busking competition, talent quest and showcase. There’s also a children’s choir and a roving Creswick Brass Band.
Above, Creswick Kids Choir leader Stella Savy of Ballarat
Words & image: Contributed