Halls Gap Jazz Festival a success

HALLS GAP - Festival goers had to contend with more than just sweltering heat at the 28th annual Halls Gap Jazz Festival.

However, not even a power outage on Saturday night could dim the spirits of the almost three thousand people that descended on the Grampians to listen to the sweet sounds of jazz last weekend.

Festival convenor Peter Milburn said he was once again happy with the turnout given the heat and power outage on Saturday that was followed by wind and blustery conditions on Sunday.

"We think it went well, we are very happy considering what people had to deal with," he said.

"The power outage on Saturday night only affected us for about three hours and most people didn't let that get in their way."

Mr Milburn said musicians rose to the challenge during the outage, as once darkness set in they played acoustically to visitors who set up picnics in the dark.

"We average about 3000 people a year, so taking into consideration the hot weather, we probably fell just under that," he said.

"When you break that down into day trippers and weekend stays we were probably up on weekend stays because people book their place well in advance, but probably a little down on day trippers because of the conditions."

Mr Milburn praised the efforts of people in the town, who once again worked hard to make the event a reality and success so soon after the recent bushfire scare.

"The people of Halls Gap, I mean just about every single person in Halls Gap comes out each year to lend a hand," he said.

"If not for the volunteering efforts of those who are always willing and happy to be involved the event would not be the success it is."

There was something for everybody at this year's festival with the sounds of jazz ranging from traditional to mainstream, modern, instrumental and singers.

Mr Milburn said the street parade was probably the brightest and best in the event's 28 year history with festival goers answering calls to don hot pink outfits as this year's colour of choice.

Gospel music accompanied a well attended Sunday morning church service that also prompted quiet reflection.

In almost three decades of entertaining the Grampians the Jazz Festival has grown from a handful of bands in its early years to a record 161 this year.

Mr Milburn said the key for next year and beyond will be attracting a younger crowd to compliment the existing audience.

He said the event is already well regarded among bands and musicians with some telling him it is the only event they would forego a paid gig to attend.

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