Apologies for being the slackest of bloggers: brace yourself for a catchup!
I hope you had a very happy and meaningful Easter this year, and were able to take some time reflecting on the real Reason for the season – the death and resurrection of our Saviour.
This year, we made our annual pilgrimage to our beloved Easterfest. It was my 12th festival, Pete’s 10th, and Mayana’s 3rd (impressive considering she’s only two years old!).
My favourite discovery this year was Canadian band Article One. I think they came last year, but I don’t remember them (not sure how I missed them!!). This year they were on Mainstage and man were they amazing! The highlight of the band for me is their incredible violinist. I’ve never seen anything like it. Google or YouTube Article One and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean.
My favourite home-grown discovery this year was ‘Cordial Factory’. Hailing from Melbourne they feature amazing harmonies and quirky instruments like ukuleles, banjos and glockenspiels. Scrumptious.
It was the first festival in five years that we had to pack and organise accommodation for. We were lucky enough to do a house-swap with some Toowoomba friends, and had a lovely warm home with comfortable beds to come to every night. And let me tell you, we were especially grateful for them on Saturday night!
You may have read or seen something about the craziness that ended up being Saturday night at Easterfest. Long story short, one minute we (along with 20,000 other people) were enjoying a wonderful Peter Furler (ex Newsboys frontman) concert, looking forward to Newworldson who were coming up next.. on a beautiful, cool night, under the twinkling stars.
The next minute, humongous raindrops started to spatter us. Just a few at first, then heavier. Then the stars were gone and the heavens opened. And boy did it rain. It didn’t take long before we realised that any attempts to remain dry were futile. I passed Mayana to my sister’s friends, who were actually managing to stay mostly dry underneath a large tarp. Newworldson started playing, and we abandoned the pathetic ‘shelter’ of the picnic blanket, and embraced the rain. We love Newworldson and nothing was stopping us dancing. Suddenly, there was no part of my body that was dry. And there was inches of water running through my shoes. And I was standing on top of a hill! It was freezing and the rain felt icy. My sister’s friends took Mayana to find my sister who was hopefully somewhere drier. We stuck it out for a few more songs before we started to shiver. It was just too cold, and even though the highly anticipated Switchfoot was set to play next, we knew we had to go.
We hurriedly gathered all our things together… everything was completely soaked and it dawned on us anew how incredibly heavy this rain was. We made our way out of the mainstage, and found ourselves in ankle deep water, at the top of the amphitheatre. As we were carried with the crowd the water got deeper. We made our way down to the main pavilion, where we had to exit. Someone frantically yelled at us that we couldn’t go through… the roof of the huge structure was filling with water and about to collapse – it had been evacuated. We got told to exit through the fence, and had to walk around past another few venues. At this point, I realised that I was no longer with my husband. I was with my mum, aunty, sister and my brother’s friend. I didn’t know where Mayana was. Mum told us to go to the car, while she and my aunty looked and waited for the missing ones.
We walked through the festival grounds, and as we went the water got deeper and deeper until I found it rushing about my knees. I was terrified and freezing. We got out of the park in a slight haze of panic, and walked down the street in shin deep water until we finally made it to the place where our car was parked. We stripped off and put on drier jumpers that we had shoved in our soaking backpacks. It was so cold! I couldn’t stop shaking, though most of that was anxiety. I was so sick with worry, not knowing where my baby was. I knew that our friends would keep her safe, and that they would most likely have gotten her to my sister, but we couldn’t contact anyone, and it was still raining and there were sirens… it was nerve-wracking to say the least.
Eventually my brother appeared, and then my dad. He had left Pete in a safe and dry carpark with all of our things, but hadn’t seen anyone else. Then my mum finally go through to my phone – she had been separated from everyone else and ended up on her own… waiting near the entrance hoping to see the rest of our family as they went past. It was chaotic!
We waited, prayed, tried to get warm. We watched over the balcony, waiting for familiar faces. Eventually we saw a group of people walking towards us, and realised that it was the rest of our group. And there was my sister, holding my girl. Phew! I literally felt waves of relief rush over me, and my heart resumed its normal rhythm. I don’t think I’ve ever hugged my girl so tight. And my awesome sister had kept her absolutely dry and safe. Amazing.
We were all safe. We drove home, got into dry clothes, made hot drinks and compared our experiences. We were all in quite a bit of shock and couldn’t believe what had happened. We checked facebook to try and get an idea of what was happening at the park. The main pavilion had partially torn and collapsed, but the rain had stopped and the water went away quickly – as it usually does with flash flooding. We were all amazed that with over 20,000 people trying to get out of a potentially very serious emergency situation, there was no mass panic or hysteria. Somehow, there were no serious injuries, and the entire crowd came out of the festival safely that night.
We woke up the next morning to the most gorgeous day – you would never have dreamed the chaos of the night before! Facebook informed us that the festival in the park was cancelled due to the flood damage, but the amazing Easterfest team were rescheduling many of the bands to venues throughout the city.
Despite the massive change in plans, Sunday ended up being amazing. There were many bands playing throughout the city, and a huge main event featuring Naturally Seven, Paul Colman Trio and Newworldson right in the middle of town!! It was awesome.
We were also treated to a wonderful performance by the Melbourne Gospel Choir at a local church that evening.
The organisers most certainly made the very best out of pretty awful situation, and I think they should be applauded.
As always, Easterfest this year was an amazing weekend, and this year – for many more reasons than just the flood, it was a very memorable event.
I can’t WAIT for Easterfest 2012!!!