Got the moves: There was lots of twirling and toe tapping at the dance floor within the Armstrong Street party. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

Party vibes at rockin’ debut festival

February 13, 2020 BY

DANNY & the Juniors first sang, Rock and Roll is Here to Stay sixty-two years ago, and they were certainly onto something.

The rockabilly and rock‘n’roll cultures are alive and well, evident in the success of the first ever Rock Ballarat festival last weekend.

Organiser, Stevie Kaze estimated between 6000 and 8000 people flocked to the retro party based in Armstrong Street North on Saturday and Sunday where there was live music, a dancefloor, markets and more.

“There’s been stuff going on all over the place,” he said. “On Saturday we had dance lessons at the Civic Hall, pin-ups at the Mining Exchange, free bands in Armstrong Street, then venues like the Hop Temple were joining in.

Rock Ballarat organisers hope to expand their day and night market offerings for 2021.

“It’s definitely had the vibe that we were looking for. There’s something going on all the time, there’s music playing, people dancing at the free stage, a vibe on the street… It’s come together very well.”

A “magnificent range” of about 100 cars were on show at the event which was organised “from scratch” within 22 weeks and attracted attendees from across Australia.

“There are a lot of rock‘n’roll people and rockabilly people in Ballarat, but to make it accessible to everyone is the goal here,” Mr Kaze said.

“We’ve got people from Perth and Queensland. I met a lovely couple from Kangaroo Island who’d come over to enjoy the festival.

“People who wouldn’t normally go for rock‘n’roll and rockabilly, we want to get them involved too. It’s part of the dream, to bring it to as many people as possible.”

Rock Ballarat’s team was “blown away” by the response to their debut event and its brand, following the cancellation of former local rockabilly festival, Ballarat Beat.

“We’ve got people who’ve turned up this year that said they wouldn’t come back to Ballarat after last year,” Mr Kaze said.

About 100 old vehicles were shown as part of Rock Ballarat.

“The fact that people have recognised a new brand and new faces, they’re willing to travel for it, and we’re looking forward to having a greater reach again next year.

“We’re already in planning stage for 2021. The night market was hugely successful between 6pm and 8pm on Saturday night, so we want to make that a bigger event next year.”

Organisers are looking to have overarching festival passes available next year and are throwing around names for entertainers.