2017 Red Deer Festival Review

2017 Red Deer Festival Review Image © Zoe Russell
It’s an overcast, humid, sticky and a very wet day (14 October) in the glorious, rolling pastures of Mt Samson as Red Deer Music and Arts Festival braces itself for another weekend-sleepover party.

Returning for its seventh year, Red Deer lives up to its promise to deliver another memorable day and night of astronomical entertainment, intergalactic fashion, diverse food and eccentric culture.

CostumesImage © Zoe Russell

This boutique festival really is one of a kind. Punters are invited to BYO booze and couch, participate in the annual prestigious ‘Fashions on the Field’ event as part of the festival’s Space Oddity theme, share in hula hoop workshops, glitter face-painting, photo booths, performance installations, and the great and unforgettable mass-participant sack race relay.

Being a Red Deer first-timer, I was curious to experience this festival for everything that it had to offer and truly understand the meaning of a boutique-festival experience.

Dark Nile
Dark Nile - image © Zoe Russell

Red Deer is gorgeously intimate, with an individual community following. The unique concept of BYO created a party atmosphere unlike any other festival; it truly feels like I have stepped into my best mate’s backyard and am about to experience the best intergalactic party on the planet. So very wonderful.

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For me, this festival ticks all of my favourite boxes. An astounding music line-up featuring a plethora of genres; female musicians and incredible, emerging talent playing alongside household names of the Australian music scene; as well as having the opportunity to leisurely wrap myself in tin foil and wear a space-themed costume casually on a Saturday afternoon, while sitting on a glorious hill having some brews with some really terrific astronauts. What else is really is there?

We are on a mission for outer-space and now that I am up here, I don’t want to come back down to Earth; thank you, Deer.

Shag Rock
Shag Rock - image © Zoe Russell

The festival kicks off and punters arrive with eskies, couches, blankets and costumes, an excess of tin foil, umbrellas, ponchos, tents and camper vans.

Unlike most other festivals, we are allowed to come on in and set-up a permanent, little area in front of the double-stage amphitheatre, so it provokes the community feeling of camping, with your couch neighbors soon to be your new, best friends.

Band Of Freq
Band Of Frequencies - image © Zoe Russell

The festival stage programme was second to none. All of the acts were completely different in musical genre to one another, with the common theme of quality entertainment inducing a relaxed, yet spirited party atmosphere upon the audience.

Kite String Tangle
The Kite Stringle Tangle - image © Zoe Russell

The line-up featured rockabilly blues folklores Transvaal Diamond Syndicate, one of my personal favourite local acts Kingfisha, the legendary MC Wheels, Brisbane’s electronic act The Kite String Tangle, and closing the festival with Sydney’s The Preatures.

The Preatures
The Preatures - image © Zoe Russell

As the day began, most people happily watched the stage acts from the comfort of their couch, joining in to dance or casually hula hoop in front of the stage at their leisure.

As the sun went down and the rain settled in, the amphitheatre transformed into a sea of couch surfing, slippery rain dancing, friend-making and muddy hugs.

Hoola Hoops
Image © Zoe Russell

No amount of torrential rain could dampen the spirits, with the dancing continued right up until the last performance; The Preatures being the absolute, perfect closing act for the festival.

A brilliant highlight at the festival for me was the previously mentioned mass-participation sack race relay. This felt like a real-turning point for the festival and in my mind I can only really differentiate the moments in time with ‘before the sack race’ versus ‘after the sack race’.

Sack Race
Image © Zoe Russell

This hilarious concept worked so well because the festival is gloriously intimate; in the true spirit of making new friends, most of the punters were busting with enthusiasm to get into a sack and jump for their team while risking the potential bloodshed and public shame of landing face down in mud in front of an audience in full costume.

The stage entertainment was paused and the games begin, commentated by the festival crew and the sidelines are littered with photographers to capture every face-plant.

Sack Race Face Plant
Image © Zoe Russell

This is no doubt professional league sack racing at its finest and the competition is brutal, with the winning team running and diving onto the race track in victory before giving anyone else a chance to fall out of their sacks.

Sack Race Winners
Sack race winners - image © Zoe Russell

I left the festival glowing with the wonderful bitter-sweet feeling of happy and hilarious memories, broken costumes, muddy feet and new best friends. So it truly saddens me that after seven wonderful years, this was to be the final instalment of Red Deer Festival.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to the Red Deer Festival team for welcoming us to your great big and wonderful backyard sleepover full of love, glitter and madness, and for truly committing to a uniquely boutique community experience for all of your rare breed of festival friends.

All my Deerest love xo

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