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Beaufort Street Festival

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The Beaufort Street Festival returns this Saturday, November 16. BOB GORDON checks in with organisers, Aaron Rutter and Paul Fletcher.

Usually, festival media launches are required to go off with a bang. The Beaufort Street Festival’s however, went off with a crash, when the ceiling/floor of Defector’s took a little dive.

Still, at least it was memorable?

“Thanks for allowing us to insert all of our one-liner jokes about this launch,” says JumpClimb Artist Management Director, Aaron Rutter. “We certainly brought the house down, with our ground-breaking programming and wise-cracks. It brought a smashing end to an otherwise floor-less launch.

“On a more serious note, after the floor dropped, the way in which the crowd, and staff at Defectors reacted was commendable and everyone escaped safely…to Five Bar where we all celebrated not falling 10 feet to The Flying Scotsman below.”

The Beaufort Street Festival  has grown significantly since it first premiered in 2009. Rutter, Director (Event Management & Venue Bookings)  Paul Fletcher and the team at JumpClimb took over in 2012 with an evolving mindset.

“When we picked up the festival contract last year we began to ramp up the community aspect of the festival,” Rutter explains. “Keeping the already successful elements of music and arts, we then developed the family, food and wine, fashion and after-dark programming to widen the scope and accessibility of the festival.

“We can’t take all the credit, though. This festival is the kind of celebration that Perth craves and generally seems to be an unstoppable beast. And normally our PR stunts are pretty wild, however we promise we had nothing to do with the launch party floor collapsing.”

Not surprisingly, the Beaufort Street Festival takes on a huge number of staff and volunteers in a diversity of roles to run the event, which drew an estimated 100,000 people in 2012.

“There is a volunteer steering committee representing The Beaufort Street Network – the not-for-profit owners of the event – who give their time tirelessly week in and out for the last six or so months,” explains Fletcher. “The festival simply wouldn’t exist without this group of people, and we can’t thank them enough. There is a massive volunteer contingent from local community members, including each element of the festival having its own Director – Food Director, Fashion Director, etc – who also run a team under them leading up to, and the execution of that element on the day.

“There are also around 100 volunteers who work throughout Festival Day on roles ranging from stage management, to road closures, from coordinating the roving performers to carrying water to the stages. It’s a huge site, over 1km, and it’s all hands on deck. We’re still looking for volunteers, too (via beaufortstreetfestival.com.au).”

The festival this year received about 250 performer applications, and over 400 stall applications, with more being received daily despite the cut-off date being in mid-August.

“Even though it is such a massive festival, all applications are very carefully curated by the relevant committees and narrow it down to around 40 bands and around 100 stalls,” Fletcher says. “We want to ensure that there is a balanced mix of external stalls which complement, rather than compete with, the businesses on the street.

“There is a range of criteria with music programming, which ranges with relevancy stage-to-stage. The Flying Scotsman stage, for example, is a lot more rock oriented than our City Of Stirling stage, which is more jazz focussed. The committee who decided the band line-up for this year was made up of volunteers including those not only from WA media and music magazines, but also local community members who put their hand up.”

Encouragingly, there are many points of difference in this year’s BSF that will add to its overall variety. Diversity is in the air and all down the street.

“For the first time in BSF history we have a food stage,” Fletcher enthuses. “This will include cooking demonstrations from Simon Johnson, My Kitchen Rules and Masterchef contestants, Don Hancey, plus will feature the launch of our cookbook, Recipes & Ramblings – A Food Journey From Beaufort Street And Beyond.

“We can’t wait to see it in action (on the corner of Harold Street) and think it’ll be a huge hit on the day. Another first for The Beaufort Street Festival is the closure of the Walcott Street intersection. This has been something we have be planning for literally 12 months and it will open the festival up to The City Of Stirling side more than ever before, and ensure that patron safety is increased, which is always a massive priority for us.”

Fresh from producing the Pride Festival a fortnight ago, the JumpClimb crew are certainly in the zone and pumped for another big Beaufort bash.

“We hope more than anything that there is something for everyone and that they can find that something in the crowds,” Rutter notes. “We are hoping that the weather holds up, as at the moment the forecast is hot and wet. We hope that people are able to find a watering hole more than ever this year, with several bars on the street expanding their capacity for the day.

“And we hope that one day soon we can get some sleep.”

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