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Go Go, Cobargo - The Cobargo Folk Festival

Next week, Cobargo will host to their annual folk festival. A little festival with a big pull, over 200 artists will converge on the Sapphire Coast to perform in the multicultural musical jamboree. With dance workshops, stand-up comedy and performances spanning the broad spectrum of folk music possibilities from belly-dancing to bluegrass, this year’s festival is set to be their most successful to date.

Regional Arts NSW spoke to Coral Vorbach who manages publicity for the event about what visitors to the festival can expect this year.


How long has the Cobargo Folk Festival existed and what changes have occurred over the festival’s history? The Yuin Folk Club Inc. is a not-profit incorporated association with the purpose of promoting and presenting folk music, lore and dance to the far south coast NSW community, emphasising the multicultural and indigenous essence of Australia’s music today.

The committee decided to hold an annual folk festival and the first one was in Feb 1996. We recognised the abundance of talented musicians and performers in the south coast community, and at that time not a great many outlets for this talent. We kicked-off with a grant of $500 from the Bega Valley Shire Council and many musicians, including Eric Bogle and The Waifs, waived their fee to support the initiative. The festival was successful. It was held in the village in Cobargo and supported by the local community.

The festival was so successful, it grew each year until 2003 when some of the volunteers found it had become too big for the village. The local police informed the organisers that because the village was on the Princes Highway it would be unlikely to get permission to hold it in town again. It was decided to move to the local Showground. This new location was a very positive move.

We were very fortunate to have Reginald Dew on the committee. Reginald is an experienced rigger who has worked with big productions such as The Three Tenors, Michael Jackson, and Pink Floyd. He transformed the pavilion into to a beautiful concert area enabling us to try new features such as theatre, special events and this has enhanced our festival to a most important event on the calendar for the south coast.

Andrew Gray (South East Arts RADO) was helpful with information for the grant and previously, Jen Hunt when she was Arts Officer here was really supportive and helped put us on the map. Much of her advice helped in the transition when we moved to the Showground. She had good contacts and she loved our festival.

We have applications from performers from UK, Germany, USA and France which has put Cobargo on the ‘map’ culturally.

What is special about this year’s Festival? We have several interesting features this year including a special West African performance with Jali Buba Kuyateh and Afro Diyaa. Jali Buba Kuyateh is a master kora player and singer from Senegambia in West Africa. Jali performed solo at Cobargo in 2005 and now lives permanently in Australia.

We have also included about 20 special presentations in the festival program. By their nature many are one-off presentations and you will not wish to miss them. These include two of Dingo’s Breakfast’s infamous “Radio Ballads”; two devoted to famous songwriters of the past whose songs have endured (Woody Guthrie and Stephen Foster); songs from the Scots Diaspora; and Kristina Olsen’s autobiography through song and stories. The “Blues and Blessings” concert should be an exciting culmination to a series of workshops in which you can all be involved.

In addition, we have included the usual Comedy, Bluegrass, Blues and Political Soapbox concerts. The Jim Lay Memorial Songwriters Concert and Eileen Morgan Memorial Concert (for indigenous performers) have also become annual features.   This year we are using the Yuin venue for workshops and have 18 workshops programmed covering guitar, fiddle, whistle, bodhran, autoharp, songwriting, Scottish, Breton and Cajun music, and even stand-up comedy. Once again we are presenting a diverse program of demonstrations and workshops encompassing everything from Australian bush dance, American contra dance, Scottish dance, belly-dance, Flamenco, Irish set dances and more. The program is held in a dedicated dance venue appropriately called The Brolga, so bring your dancing shoes (or bare feet) and have fun and get some healthy exercise in the process!

How many people are you expecting to attend? If the weather is good, 3000; if it rains then we have our fingers crossed we can pay our bills.

Do you have any local artists taking part in the festival? Yes many. Bob Hart is an interesting performer with interest in old-timey and American music. We have a special venue, The Crossing Land and Education Venue, especially for young performers.  They will present a songwriters concert from a concept, The Big Yellow Taxi Songwriters Concert, to encourage young local performers and songwriters. Dave Crowden, a local guitar teacher, is performing with the choirs. Dave is held in great esteem as he taught many of our young performers including Daniel Champagne and Kim Churchill both of whom are doing well on the international and national circuit.

How does the local community become involved in the festival? Many are members of the Yuin Folk Club Inc. and the special organising committee for the festival. Many come as volunteers. The festival is now exceeding all expectations for success. It creates an outlet for local musicians and performers and brings revenue to the town. We grateful to all the wonderful people involved.

For more information, visit



Festival dates: 22nd, 23rd & 24th Feb, 2013

Ticket Prices:

  • Adult weekend – $90
  • Camping 1-4 days inclusive – $25pp
  • Youth 17 and under (must have guardian to accompany if camping) – $25
  • Kids – free
  • Friday only – $35
  • Friday youth – $10
  • Saturday all day – $70
  • Saturday evening from 6pm – $45
  • Saturday youth – $10
  • Sunday adult -$35
  • Sunday youth – $5


Image:  The Perch Creek Family Jug Band