Despite – or perhaps because of – the overwhelming popularity of this year’s Bluesfest, complaints have focused on two main issues: the number of empty chairs at the back of tents during performances and the length of time it took to exit the car park at the end of the night.
As a result BYO chairs will be banned in future and a new approach taken to car parking at next year’s 25th anniversary Bluesfest, director Peter Noble said yesterday.
More than 80,000 people had passed through the gates of the festival by the time it wrapped up last night to the sounds of Paul Simon, Wilco, Melbourne Ska Orchestra and the Bamboos.
But ahead of the Rufus Wainwright performance on Sunday night a woman came onstage and announced the venue had become ‘chair free’ and told people sitting at the back to fold up their chairs so more people could come in and shelter from the rain.
As Echonetdaily reader Tony Gilding said in a letter to the editor today, ‘she asked all the people with chairs to leave the tent immediately. The ludicrousness of the situation seemed to escape her. It was raining outside; the chances of her direction being complied with were zero.’
He added many around him ‘demonstrated the famous north coast activism of civil disobedience and stayed seated’.
But it is clear the patience of organisers and many festival goers is wearing thin with patrons who leave chairs unattended in tents, often through entire gigs, dramatically reducing the amount of space available, especially during rain periods.
At a news conference yesterday Mr Noble said fold up chairs would be banned from the event in future and Bluesfest would instead provide a limited amount of fixed seating at the back of venues.
He accepted that the time taken to exit the car park (there have been reports of up to two hours some cases) was unacceptable and said a plan to de-link the north and south car parks should help alleviate the problem.
He said the entries and exits would remain separate next year, meaning people coming from the south would enter and leave the south car park by the south and people coming from the north would enter and leave the north car park.
Mr Noble also revealed for the first time that the 2012 festival made a loss but added that this year’s festival would make a considerable profit.
Jeff’s best of the fest
Echonetdaily photographer Jeff Dawson braved all weathers to bring you this gallery of magical moments from Bluesfest 2013.