Ararat rocked by festival success

ARARAT - The 20th annual Ararat Jailhouse Rock Festival has been hailed an outstanding success with large crowds to complement an array of entertainment.

Festival director Ian Wilson said this year's festival was one of the most successful in the event's history with up to 3,500 people in attendance across the weekend.

"It has just reinforced that our decision to return our focus to 50s and 60s' era rock and roll was the right decision," he said.

Celebrations kicked into gear Friday with The Ararat Advertiser's annual Crazy Day, that for the first time adopted a Jailhouse Rock theme with associated businesses extending their sales into Saturday morning.

A meet and greet for visitors and enthusiasts at the Ararat Performing Arts Centre was held Friday evening and a dinner dance at the RSL sold out.

Participants were then given the opportunity to display their pride and joy with a cruise of Barkly Street as the sun set.

Saturday's Giant Highway 8 festival event in Barkly Street was free of cost, but full of colour and excitement as children from Ararat primary schools stole the show.

"We had bamboozle circus and rock 'n' roll dancers from Ararat 800 primary school, as well as the Ararat West choir perform," Mr Wilson said.

"I am pleased that for four weeks they rehearsed their material, this showed their strength of support for the event as it is the youth that will carry this festival into the future."

The weekend's feature event the Moovin' and Groovin' Ball at the Ararat Performing Arts Centre was another sell out while The Wheels ball held simultaneously at Alexandra Hall was also sold out.

"The figures we have show us that 90 percent of the people that attended those events were non-local," Mr Wilson said.

"That can only be of benefit to the festival through the wide promotion, and local traders with the extra business the visitors bring."

Sunday's extravaganza at Alexandra Oval boasted an extensive music program with room for dancing under a specially erected marquee, fashion parade and merchants promoting their memorabilia.

Of particular interest to young car enthusiasts was the static car display. Police members showed off a drag monaro, ute and marked police car (Chrysler) as part of an education campaign to improve relations with youth in the community and promote responsible driving.

Mr Wilson said he couldn't be happier with Sunday's turnout with about 250 cars on display.

"We actually had a band stay on and continue to play after our scheduled finish time, so that was encouraging of the fact the large crowd didn't want to leave," he said.

"It really was a celebration of all things on wheels with varying displays from car clubs from across the region."

Mr Wilson heaped praise on input from volunteers and committee members who went out of their way to ensure that in a milestone year the event was a true celebration of rock 'n' roll era music from the 1950s and 1960s.

"One of our key tasks has always been to ensure that our visitors leave as strong ambassadors, not just for the festival, but for the town of Ararat as well," he said.

"We've had people approach me, the committee, telling us it was the best festival ever."

Mr Wilson said attention will soon turn to preparations for next year's event to be held the weekend after the 2015 Labour Day long weekend.

"Music is an integral part of the festival, once we get our finances together and conduct analysis of this year's event we'll be able to identify any areas where we can improve even further," he said.

"We'll discuss these at the annual general meeting before we make any preliminary plans for next year.

"This is an event that has grown into the premiere rock and roll event in Victoria, if not Australia."

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