WHEN the community gathers in Torquay and Geelong for the annual Nightjar Festival, a sense of connection can be felt by even the most resistant.
The value in inclusion was what drove Nightjar founder and chief executive officer Lyndelle Flintoft to throw the inaugural event 10 years ago, and while the festival has evolved, its purpose remains untouched.
“I really love the community that we’ve created. Nightjar is there to connect a community and it’s inclusive of everybody,” she said.
“Everyone kind of takes ownership of it and we really love that we’ve been able to do that.
“I know kids who have grown up through Nightjar and they all look forward to it every summer.
“It’s lovely to see kids on the dancefloor and be part of connecting people in a really healthy and great manner. As the founder and creator, it’s really nice to see everyone smiling and having fun.”
What was once a market for local artisans to showcase their offerings, Nightjar has since grown into a festival featuring more than 100 stalls, culture and art, family entertainment and live music.
And its strong embrace by frequent festivalgoers has seen it play host to crowds for a decade.
“It’s been a festival for about eight years. It has all the elements of a festival, lots of roving performers and big bands on the stages, and to celebrate the 10th year we’ve got $1,000 gate prizes every night.”
Moving with the times, Lyndelle said her Nightjar team of about 10 local staff had been working on its environmental plan to initiate positive steps in the sustainability space.
She said stall holders would not be offering any plastic items, and that the festival was working closely with Corio Waste Management to send as little waste to landfill as possible.
“This is something we are really passionate about. Ninety per cent of our compost is sent to the Mallee where it is used by farmers to grow their fruit.
“We are working towards having a 100 per cent renewable and compostable event. Unfortunately, all the ideas are there but the technology’s not there just yet. We’re also looking at going solar in the next couple of years.”
This year’s festival has welcomed new activities to the children’s area, with screenings of 2040 as well as Farmer’s Footprint (a film about regenerative farming) taking place.
Lyndelle said workshops would be running each week, including a mental health session designed for kids.
This year’s entry fees have increased to $10 for adults and $5 for 13-17 year olds. Under 12s enter free.
“This is our first increase in seven years and it’s basically a no-brainer. If we don’t increase the entry prices, there will be no festival.
“We really want to see this festival thrive and stay in the community.”
Nightjar will run on January 2 (today), 9, 16 and 23 in Torquay (Torquay Common), and on February 7, 14, 21 and 28 in Geelong (Johnstone Park).
For more information, head to nightjarfestival.com.au.