Record crowd flocks to Illawarra Folk Festival

• Good vibes at folk festival - gallery

Now in its 29th year, the Illawarra Folk Festival shows no signs of slowing down as it clocked its biggest year in 2014.

More than 10,000 people from around the country and the world descended upon the Bulli showground this weekend, taking in performances from acclaimed indigenous performer Archie Roach, Grammy-winning guitarist Dom Flemons and stars from as far afield as Denmark, Gambia and Brazil.

"Yesterday far exceeded the numbers we expected, and today is full too," festival artistic director David De Santi said on Sunday.

"We'll have 10,000-plus people through the gates, which would make this year our biggest attendance ever," he said.

Mr De Santi praised the Bulli and Illawarra community for embracing the event as strongly as it did, and thanked Wollongong City Council and local businesses for helping the event come to life.

"The improvements we made to the site this year have been terrific," he said.

Mr De Santi singled out as a personal highlight the willingness of international artists to participate in session workshops with fans.

He said the festival offered a rare chance for musicians and festivalgoers to connect on a more personal level.

"I'm so pleased with the international artists getting involved and being part of atmosphere," Mr De Santi said.

Other highlights included the John Dengate memorial concert and poetry competition.

This is named for the so-called "elder statesman" of the folk festival, who passed away in August.

Grammy guitarist Dom Flemons. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Grammy guitarist Dom Flemons. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Despite still reeling from the long weekend of song and dance, there will be no rest for the festival committee - preparations for next year's festival, the 30th anniversary, will soon be rolling out.


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