Ballarat Beat Rockabilly rocks a crowd

BALLARAT is officially under the spell of Rockabilly after the weekend’s inaugural Ballarat Beat Rockabilly Festival was declared by organisers to have been a rocking success.

An estimated crowd of 6000 people took part in the festival, with the Camp Street precinct and 17 venues overrun by the clothes, cars, moves and sounds of Rockabilly on Saturday and Sunday. 

Festival director and self-proclaimed Rockabilly King Arthur Matsakos said locals and visitors from all over Australia took part, with ambitious plans for next year’s event already under way. 

“We have been absolutely blown away with the success of the weekend,” he said. 

“If I was any happier with it, I would sing.” 

Mr Matsakos said he would petition the City of Ballarat to close Lydiard Street between Mair and Sturt streets for the 2014 festival, which is run in partnership with Ballarat Regional Tourism and is supported by Tourism Victoria. 

“In terms of taking over the CBD, Lydiard Street would be a great space to use in addition to Camp Street and Alfred Deakin Place,” he said. 

“Everyone has been saying the festival has been one of the best events in Australia and with people making bookings for next year already, we are going to continue to think big,” Mr Matsakos said. 

Social media carried hundreds of photos, from visitors, to the festival’s family market, burlesque performances and car shows, as well as fashion parades and art exhibitions.

Melbourne’s Kustom Lane Gallery presented a unique blend of lowbrow, tattoo, Tiki, and monster art in a special exhibition to mark the inaugural fesitval. 

Kustom Lane Gallery is a noted gateway to the visual landscape of the rockabilly sensibility and guest artist Max Grundy held a special meet-and-greet event at the Backspace Gallery. 

Other highlight performances included Western Australia’s The Continentals, Queensland’s Men Into Space and Victorians the Atomic High Tones. 

Mr Matsakos said the festival had showcased historic local venues including the Ballarat Mechanics’ Institute, The George Hotel and Trades Hall. 

The event continued last night with Omar and the Stringpoppers rocking the Mining Exchange before a “wild jam session”.