FESTIVUS was born in Ocean Grove on Saturday and delivered a sensational jazz, blues and ska feast for a small but dedicated audience.

Numbers were disappointingly lower than hoped for, but the organisers say that the festival is a work in progress and they are more than happy that the inaugural event was hitch-free, earning big praise from attendees and performers alike.

The event ran from 11.30am to around 10pm and featured the likes of internationally recognised jazz performers like Julien Wilson, Dave Palmer, Michelle Nicholle. Other treats included mellow appearances by Aria winning Australia singer-song writer David Bridie, stomping dance from the country’s most famous ska band the Strange Tenants and an engaging – sometimes unplugged- show from Carus Thompson and band.

The festival is a community based, non-commercial, event aimed at giving the Ocean Grove and wider community a unique music and arts experience. It has been organised by a group of unpaid locals brought together by their love of music and the arts.

The organising committee is lucky enough to have highly respected jazz musician Tim Neal among its number.

His connections helped bring some of Australia’s foremost musical talent, the likes of Julien Wilson, to the Bellarine.

The event also featured sterling performances from more local acts Kite Machine, Murdena, Alister Turrill and Tex Miller.

Tim said: “We’ve got it up and running. The lack of numbers is irrelevant, this is a long-term project.”

Tim’s words were backed up by artists and others who have experience of festivals and have seen the most successful blossom from their own modest starts.

Tim, who closed the show with the words “see you next year”, said the organisers would take away many positives from the first show. He praised the work of those that helped put it together.

“Firstly a very big thank you to the volunteer committee and all the volunteers for their dedication and time that went into putting on Ocean Groves’ first Festivus. It looked fantastic, like walking into a different world where the first thing you see is a giant sign that reads ‘YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL”. That put a smile on everyone’s face as they wandered around our beautiful park, discovering interactive art, the wall of sound, the bicycle with wings, and so much more.

“Then there was the entertainment. An eclectic array of bands and artists complimented by Indigenous dance and story-telling and an improvised theatre performance gave the Festivus goer a complete experience. Nothing but good things were said about the day, and next year we hope to incorporate our brand new performance space.”

As well as the music, local artists worked hard on creating interactive workshops for children, Bellarine Improvisation Group put on a theatre experience that has never been seen in the park before. A sound wall kept youngsters entertained and a drum workshop educated even more buddying musicians.

The event was given a Welcome to Land by David Tournier from the Wathaurong Community.

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