GALLERY: Good vibes at Illawarra Folk Festival

More than 10,000 people will flood through the Bulli Showground gates this weekend, drawn to the allure of plinking banjoes, strumming guitars, stamping feet and some yoga.

The Illawarra Folk Festival is enjoying its 29th birthday and more than 150 acts from around the Illawarra, Australia and the globe are providing the soundtrack to the party.

Festival artistic director David De Santi said the festivities were spread over 11 stages from the showground pavilion to the racecourse itself, with almost every space in between turned into a pop-up performance venue.

Folk stars feel at home in the Illawarra

"We've made great improvements to the site this year, which add to the colour of the area. We create spaces from what's there," he said from the Grandstand Bar yesterday.

It was filled with folding tables and chairs.

Far from its humble beginnings in Jamberoo, the now Bulli-based festival has become a well-loved institution on the Australian (and, indeed, international) folk circuit. The intimate setting and laid-back vibe create a friendly atmosphere many musicians are keen to experience themselves.

"We have people who plan their year around the festival, who come every year," Mr De Santi said.

"We have 150 acts playing, 40 of them locals, but got more than 500 artist applications."

When asked what had led to the longevity of the festival, Mr De Santi said, "It's a community thing. We have a little community here."

"We have 350 volunteers, but even musicians lend a hand in setting things up. It's an inclusive festival. I call it the folk village."

As the festival approaches its 30th year, there are no plans on slowing down. As soon as one festival is over, organisation for the next year begins.

"It's always fun for us, creating a space like this," Mr De Santi said.

"Each year we create a slightly different monster."

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