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Music festival set to quadruple Candelo's population

Candelo Village Festival, 28 March

Above: Djaadjawan Dancers, Wallaga Lake Welcome  concert. Image credit: Sean Burke

Candelo: population 500, but its population will rival its postcode, 2550, this Saturday with the 2015 Candelo Village Festival quadrupling the town’s population.

One of the town’s newer inhabitants, festival artistic director, and drummer with the iconic Australian folk group, The Waifs, David Ross MacDonald (Dave), came to the town to perform in the 2011 and 2013 festivals, liked the village and its environs so much that he bought a block of land.

‘I’m currently living in a humpy while the house is being built,’ he laughs.

Far more concrete is the program for the festival, with its main day on Saturday featuring Frank Yamma, Scott Cook, Melanie Hornell, Richard Perso, Sweet Jean and Bearded Gypsy Band. There’s a free concert on Friday night, and a number of free events will run in venues outside the main ‘big top’ including the Candelo Pub, General Store and Bowling Club on the main day.

‘It’s like the Candelo Village fringe and it celebrates the village. We don’t want anyone to feel excluded, and this also adds to the sense of celebration in the town over the festival,’ he says.

Dave says he’s endeavoured to bring all of the elements of his favourite festivals to this event. He also loves that it is run on a voluntary basis by the Candelo Arts Society and many of the residents as volunteers.

‘We operate the festival with a four person production team and work to create a strong artist economy within the festival. This year we’re offering a $10 voucher for artist merchandise to anyone who buys their tickets before 6pm on Friday, 27 March,’ he says.

‘Also, to ensure the festival benefits everyone, we don’t sell alcohol at the venue, so the retailers can benefit from the business created by the visitors to the town.’

This year will see the debut of ‘The Caravan of Wonders’, a Youth Stage and also featuring vaudeville/ variety/ circus/ sideshow/ magic  and street performers, as well as Leanne’s Ragtime Piano Parlor on William Street- complete with card tables and swingin’ saloon doors.

The free concert in the Town Hall on Friday night is supported by a Country Arts Support Project (CASP) grant of $1,000. It will feature the Aboriginal women’s dance group, Djaadjawan Dancers, Far South Flamenco, students from Candelo Public School, and the Kameruka Bush Dance Orchestra will lead the all in shindig for the audience to dance out the evening.

Formed by Sharon Mason in late 2013, Djaadjawan Dancers has performed at many festivals including the Cobargo Folk Festival, Four Winds, South Coast Festival of Nations, Narooma Oyster Festival and Sydney’s Yabun Festival. Over Easter the group will feature at Canberra’s National Folk Festival.

In 2014 Djaadjawan Dancers founder, Sharon Mason, assisted by South East Arts, applied for and  received a grant of $20,000 from Arts NSW through the Aboriginal Arts and Cultural Fund to develop a business plan, create a website, and new works for the group.

The full festival program and ticketing details are available at