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By Kath Gannaway

Healesville was buzzing on the weekend with hundreds of visitors and locals lining up for their wrist-band passport to more than 70 events as part of the 2017 Healesville Music Festival.
Members of the Yarra Valley Musicians’ Collective and the Healesville Music Festival Committee welcomed Yarra Ranges Councillor Fiona McAllister to officially open the festival on Friday night with opening performances by Sarah Carroll, Scott Cook and The Royal High Jinx setting the pace for a weekend of outstanding entertainment.
One of the markers of the festival’s growing success was the increasing number of visitors pitching their tents and hauling caravans to the Healesville Racecourse to stay the whole weekend.
Music Festival chair Bob Willis said numbers had tripled from last year.
“You want to be able to camp on site where the festival is happening,” he said, adding that the Healesville Amateur Racing Club committee had provided a fantastic venue not only for the campers, but for the market on the Saturday and the range of music events over the three days.
The racecourse was one of four venues including The Memo, The RSL, the Uniting Church which saw events ranging from a poet’s breakfast and bush dance to workshops and feature local, national and international artists.
Street artists brought an upbeat vibe and colour to the main street with performances including Marysville’s Pans on Fire and Healesville’s Strings and Things, and to other venues including local cafes and Healesville High School where U3A presented a sell-out concert.
Pushed to nominate some ‘stand out’ performances, Mr Willis said among some of the big names that really pulled the crowds were Opal Ocean and African band Yusupha Ngum and The Affia Band, and the Northern Folk who closed the festival on Sunday.
He said the involvement of the Little Yarra (Steiner School) Ensemble and Healesville High School Saxophone Ensemble was a magical display of young talent.
Mr Willis said the task ahead for the Yarra Valley Musicians’ Collective was to continue to build on the success of the festival with a short break before planning for the 2018 festival begins.
The YVMC is looking for new people to join the 2018 festival committee and particularly keen to build the skills base with people with particular skills such as volunteer co-ordination, team leadership and MC skills.
Mr Willis thanked a number of long-standing committee members who stepped down this year, saying they had put in a great effort over a number of years and had set a high bar.
“The aim of the new committee will be to make sure they maintain that,” he said.
Mr Willis also thanked the 70 volunteers who took on various roles over the weekend, and the sponsors, saying without them the festival could not happen.
“We will be looking to include even more volunteers next year, and would also be very happy to hear from any businesses or community organisations who would like to be involved,” he said.
The festival is held on the weekend following the Melbourne Cup each year.
If you would like to be involved, Mr Willis can be contacted on 0413 383 942.
See some more Music Festival photos on page 3, and online at mailcommunity.com.au .

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