PHOTOS: Grampians Jazz Festival a success despite challenges

ORGANISERS have labelled the 28th annual Grampians Jazz Festival a success, despite hot weather and a power outage.

Festival convenor Peter Milburn said a record 161 acts were booked for the festival.

Program highlights included Saturday’s street parade.

“The leader of Melbourne band Shirazz, Matt Dixon, led the parade, with his trombone and top hat,” Mr Milburn said.

Festival-goers went overboard with hot pink attire, in keeping with the parade’s colour theme.

“It attracted more people than ever,” Mr Milburn said.

About 3000 people attended the festival this year.

“All of the locals were happy to have people back in town,” Mr Milburn said.

“Especially the people running the ice-cream shop. Most of the day-trippers came on Sunday because the weather was better.”

Some Halls Gap houses and businesses lost electricity from about 5.30pm on Saturday night.

Restaurants and hotels, who would have been preparing for Saturday night trade, were affected.

Programmed events at the festival were called off from 8pm.

Power was reinstated around midnight.

Powercor spokesman Drew Douglas said 648 customers were affected, including most of Halls Gap and some from Stawell.

“A powerline actually broke over a creek,” he said.

“Both ends landed in the water of the creek.

“It looks like there had been lightning damage to the conductor on a previous occasion, which failed in the heat on Saturday.”

But Mr Milburn said electrical issues did not stop the music.

“Dotted around town were these little entertainment spots,” he said.

“Some people had battery-powered keyboards and they shone torches.

“You couldn’t use candles, of course.”

Total Fire Bans were in place all weekend.

“It was a fabulously warm night and everybody seemed to have a good time,'' Mr Milburn said.

"Programmed events started again at 9am on Sunday morning with a jazz gospel service.

“Straight after that we had nine venues running non-stop until 6pm.”

Temperatures peaked at 43 degrees in Horsham on Saturday.

But Halls Gap Caravan and Tourist Park manager Joanna Peet said the mercury would have stayed high at about 45 degrees in Halls Gap for a few hours in the afternoon.

“That’s what scares people – the heat,” she said.

She said the town was bustling, but it had been busier in previous years.

“A lot of people heard it was going to be hot,” she said.

While Sunday was cooler, it was also windy.

“We have not had one complaint though,” Mrs Peet said.

“Last night people just made little groups and started singing or playing music on guitars, or whatever instruments they could find, because it was too hot to sleep.

"There are still heaps of people here.”

All of the park’s 100 powered sites and 40 cabins are full.

Mrs Peet did not believe the fires had deterred people from coming to the jazz festival.

“They came for the jazz,” she said.

Halls Gap Sergeant Paul Russell said the crowd had been extremely well behaved.

“Police were extremely happy with how the event was run,” he said.

“The event organisers did a lot more planning for the fire risk and the heat – it paid off.”

The Grampians Jazz Festival started in Roses Gap with 14 bands performing in a single venue.

By 1992 it had become so big it had to be moved to Halls Gap.

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