Traditionally the festival is based around the flowers, art,
craft and stalls. But this year younger children could not get enough of
the "We Built This City" cardboard box arena and jumping castle. Not to
mention the mobile entertainment vehicle simply known as The Bus, which came
complete with Internet access and console games.
About 250 children had visited the cardboard box area in just the first few hours it had opened Saturday morning.
Box City "safety officer" Nathan Gurney said safety was his middle name.
"I have got cable ties for tricky corners, a texta for making signs and then a spare texta just in case," he said.
"We haven't counted exactly how many boxes are here, but there is at least 2000."
Children were encouraged to stack boxes as high as possible, before knocking them down and starting again.
While children had fun with the boxes, the Begonia Festival was of
course about the begonia's. Festival volunteer Graeme Strachan said "bus
loads" of tourists had stopped to admire flowers inside the Robert Clark
Conservatory which this year came complete with an Aladdin theme. Mr Strachan said the drought had failed to dampen the size, or colour of the flowers.
Ladies and gennilmen, it don't get much better than that. I missed the parade, but again, the laser-sharp reportage of The Courier mentions this year had more floats than ever. Ballarat folk who were there say this is because most of the city's garbage trucks and Council vehicles were tacked on to the end of it. Apparently you could SMS a vote for your favourite garbage truck. Instead of whinging about the hijacking of more than $200,000 of public money to feed the sad egos of a few people who insist there be nothing interesting allowed to happen in Ballarat, just down the highway we were losing our minds to two insane Tasmanians with synths and vocoders
It was Golden Plains the 2nd, and yea, did it rock verily. Here's the shortlist summary:
Ween: overblown, overhyped and over here. Two hours onstage and you still can't play Gabrielle? Sure, you're a shit-hot guitarist. But if you can't do something more than play your own jukebox in double the time allowed the other bands, you are boring. Fuck off back to novelty songland.
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings: plagued by a dodgy microphone but nailed the funk/soul banner to the wall and made everyone dance a funky salute to it
South Rakkas Crew: when will they learn? Dancehall djs are fine, but don't ever walk onstage at the Supernatural Ampitheatre and think you can pull this 'put your hands in the air' shit. We will call it as we see it. And you are wankers.
The Dirtbombs: Everything that is good about rock. Totally awesome, two drummers, awesomely huge sound, tight as fuck with a proper traincrash finish. A joy to behold.
The Vines: will the crowd stop giving this guy shit about antidepressants and being bipolar? Probably not. But the crowd danced. The old folks remained impassive.
Jens Lekman: somebody call TISM. I have a new target for them.
Buffalo Tom: OK... but making jokes about Altamont? *yawn* And he fucked up the chorus on Taillights Fade. Seriously, mate - you only had to get one song right. Is that too much to ask some hasbeen college rockers?
The Panics: great stuff. It's true what people are saying about them being the new Go-Betweens. If only he can keep from sounding like whassiface from the Whitlams, he'll be alright.
Pikelet were a tasty discovery early on. Kind of like Bjork, but from Northcote. Chick plays accordion, makes her own live loops and sings. Never seen a band all recline on banana lounges while the singer does a solo number... these guys were interesting.
Beirut got bigged up to me by the aforementioned Systah BB. She said not to miss 'em. I say: what if Morrissey joined a Balkan-gypsy band? The girls sighed. The band were great, but never hit that vodka-fuelled gypsy speed metal vibe that I like with that kind of music.
The Bamboos: the night after Sharon Jones, the skips had a crack at this "funk and soul" thing, and these bad boys from Melbourne danced up the pitch and belted it waaaaay out of the park. I'll never see the Bar-Kays or the Mar-Keys, but by Christ I saw the Bamboos knock it out with total sharp-suited aplomb, ably helped by Kylie Auldist on the mic and - I shit you not - a freestyle rap sesh from the TimTam Genie.
Jay Reatard: just when I thought I was going to die from either the heat or boring music, these guys played a set of furiously fast and stupid punk rock. And the bass player was playing a four string Flying Vee - how rock is that?
Jane Badler and Sir: most of this was spent explaining to sad young folk what the tv series V was all about. Her music sounded like something you'd hear Sunday arvo at the rehab clinic. The musical equivalent of a trip to Wobbie's World - it's never going to be great, but it's important you at least see how crap it can be.
Iron And Wine: great, but I wish I was sitting down and it wasn't so crowded. Which is a stupid thing to say at a music festival. Perfect music for hot days amid the gum trees.
Scientists of Modern Music: two little guys from Tassie goin' ballistic. What can I say? I hate keyboard driven Pseudo Newman tunes (that's the fusion of Pseudo Echo and Gary Newman, y'all..), but these guys were stupidly infectious and fun.
Meanwhile, in Ballarat's Botanic Gardens.. Councillor Hudson encouraged residents to come along to the Lake foreshore to soak up the festival atmosphere. "We have a great entertainment line-up in store this year with everything from Kylie Minogue's pop anthems to tributes to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Junior with The Rat Pack Show," he said.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Our humble state of Victoria has few rivals when it comes to shit-awful/boring-as-sand festival events, but few of these can better the absolute creamy fly-covered turdness of Ballarat's Begonia Festival. It takes a special kind of journalist to whip interest out of this shallow grave of ratepayers money, and we salute the hardworking womble who chiselled out this particular irony-free zone in the Courier, Ballarat's august paper of record. All errors of grammar and syntax have been kept from the original publication, and I've highlighted the bits that nail the sad, decaying corpse-eating pit of sadness that is Begonia Festival 2008: