• Layne D

Imagining a beautiful future at the Woodford Folk Festival 19/20

After popping our Woodford Folk Festival cherry in 2018 we couldn’t help but return to the Woodfordia grounds and the world of Woodford again in 2019, with Mitch returning as the instrument repairer, and myself, as the archival photographer at Folkorica and Dance Hall.

The theme this year was “Imagining a beautiful future”, a theme that inspires the best out of us and encourages us to see the positive in all the negative that has been going on right now.

If we can begin to imagine a beautiful future together then we can start to work towards it, but without that imagining the seed cannot be planted.

This theme seems to be deeply rooted in the heart of this festival, and everything that goes on in this temporary world of magic and mystery inspires that notion. The kindness, comradery and compassion that abounds the festival is almost infectious.

We were talking with a volunteer during the festival this year and he said something wonderful…. “Just look at all these smiles around” he said “it feels so great to know that we’ve helped to create those smiles just by doing our job” and it’s true, almost everywhere you look there is a smile reflecting back at you, and some of the biggest smiles we saw were on the faces of other volunteers that were just so overjoyed to be part of creating something so magical. At the end of the day or night (I forget, time doesn’t really exist as WFF) we are all exhausted beyond belief, but it’s worth it for that amazing feeling of connection that we all get.

This year was a busy one for Mitch, with last year being a kind of introductory period. Now Mitch was ready to kick it up a notch and show them just what he could do!

Coming to the rescue of all kinds of artists is Mitch’s greatest pleasure and boy did he have a good time this year. He rung in the New Year working on Buddy Knox’s guitar, he got called out to a stage for an emergency drum repair with nothing but a roll of gaffa tape, he completed an x-brace repair in record time and all round had the repairing time of his life. Coming home with a wealth of tales about his bravery and quick thinking, and many new friends too!

There is one person in particular at the festival that stood out to me the moment I first saw him, someone that we can certainly call a friend now.

I first saw him at the 2018 Program launch. At the time I didn’t know who he was, but I knew I loved him. Then he got up on stage and began to talk, that was when I knew I had to know this person. I found out that his name was Uncle Noel Blair, and although he wouldn’t admit it, he’s kind of a big deal. To cut a long story short I knew I needed to hear more from him, so during the 2018 festival we went to his spear and boomerang throwing workshop up at Hilltop, we listened to his stories at the children's festival, we basically shadowed the guy in secret!

As fate would have it we were destined to meet.

This year, by chance our camp site happened to be neighbouring his and we became good friends, very good friends! He taught us about symbols and showed us all his amazing artifacts that he is constantly making. He said that I was gentle like the turtle and gave me a little gift with turtles on it. He showed Mitch how to throw a boomerang so it would come back to him, and he taught him a very important lesson about how Mitch’s actions also return back to him too. We sang to him and taught him some songs, we had many fun yarns and friendly hugs. By the end we felt that we had forged a special kind of friendship. To me it is moments like these that make this festival so special; it is what keeps us all coming back year after year. The moments you can’t buy, the moments that aren’t planned and the friendships that become life long bonds.

Many of us use Woodford as a way of topping up our kindness cup, reminding ourselves why giving feels so good, and trying to take as much of that attitude with us long after we leave the Festival grounds. I know it inspires me to try to be the best version of myself, and it inspires me to keep on smiling.

So here is to imagining a beautiful future, together.