The decision to turn the ticketed 24th Australian Blues Music Festival into a free event has been taken in response to the bushfire crisis, organisers say.
"We have decided to turn it into a free event so those who have been dealing with this can escape to the festival to have some healing time out, whilst enjoying some beautiful blues music, within a supportive community," said event producer Scott McDuff from Australian National Events (ANE).
ANE was appointed to run the festival after organiser of nine years, Geoff Bell's firm Laing Entertainment, did not lodge an expression of interest this year.
The Blues Music Festival will be held over the weekend of February 7-9 with more than 25 acts performing in multiple venues.
Mr McDuff said tickets that had been purchased to date were being "fully refunded ... We will invite people to make a donation at the door of each of the venues, with all door proceeds going to the bushfire appeal."
Still looking for sponsors, Mr McDuff said he was disappointed with a lack of financial support from local businesses. "The financial support ... has not been great so far. Some accommodation houses supported us ... promptly. However, we had hoped that [more] local businesses would support the festival as they would have benefited by the influx of people into town."
With concerns over air quality, shows that were going to take place in the open area at Seiffert Oval have now been moved to indoor venues. The entertainment scheduled on the main stage at the oval will be moved to the indoor auditorium at the Goulburn Workers Club.
The blues marketplace will return to Belmore Park and all entertainment will take place within the seven pubs and clubs in Goulburn's city centre.
Acts include the Backsliders, featuring guitarist/vocalist Dom Turner and drummer/percussionist Rob Hirst, joined on harmonica by a rotating roster of Brod Smith, Ian Collard or Joe Glover. The Backsliders have been ARIA 'Blues & Roots' nominees and iTunes Australia Blues and Roots Album of the Year winners.
"With the recent devastating bushfires, we hope the event may help to provide some respite for the community during such difficult times."
Other acts include the Kate Lush Band, Liza Ohlback, and many more, along with a celebration of local talent in School Yard Blues.
Performances can be seen at multiple Goulburn venues including the Workers, Soldiers and Goulburn clubs, the Tattersalls, Astor and Southern Railway hotels, and the Goulburn Railway Bowling Club.
ANE will be running the festival over the next five years. "We are looking forward to making it bigger and better," Mr McDuff said.
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