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Byron Shire
April 11, 2021

Mullum music fest spawns a new (winter) franchise

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The Milk Carton Kids from the US headlined this year's Bello Winter Festival.
The Milk Carton Kids from the US headlined this year’s Bello Winter Festival.

By Simeon Michaels

The Mullum Music Festival has spawned a franchise. Last weekend saw over 3,000 steamy-breathed music-lovers crowd halls, pubs and clubs at the Inaugural Bello Winter Festival at Bellingen.

The model is proving a winner for festival director Glenn Wright, as Saturday sold out and well insulated punters absorbed a broad range of quality music.

Headline act the Milk Carton Kids (USA) joked with the audience about keeping expectations low prior to a performance that had the whole festival mesmerised

If grumbles were to be heard,  it was a result of the fest’s popularity, packed halls left latecomers out in the cold, and seats and meals were hard to come by at restaurants startled by the unexpected influx.

However, a concern that locals would reject the ‘blow-in’ seem to have evaporated in the face of a concerted effort to involve the local artistic community.

‘We’ve got lots of local content in this festival,’ Wright said.

‘It gives people a feel of the town, and helps local musicians to get gigs elsewhere,’ says Wright, who was also delighted by the success of a mentoring program which teamed four local (Bellingen area) youth with some the festival stars.

Local muso Mark Oliver agrees. ‘We’ve had a good thing going here in Bello for the last few years, we’ve got a few good bands and they’ve been nurtured by local venues supporting them, but the frustration is breaking out of the bubble. The festival is a showcase for us, its the next step’.

As seven-piece band Bunya played a hometown set on a sunny Sunday arvo, it was the audience, as clean and sparkly as the Bellinger River itself, delighted to see their men sharing a stage with world class acts, that encapsulated the weekend’s spirit.

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