2017 Tullamore Irish Festival

“They arrive total strangers but by the end of it they’re all swapping addresses,” Tullamore Irish Festival Committee chairman and day coordinator, Paul Stanbrook said.

“You look around and think how much fun is this?”

This friendly atmosphere, Paul said, is what the Tullamore Irish Festival is all about.

The festival is the town’s biggest event of the year – held every Easter long weekend – and this year attracted between 1100 and 1300 people.

“It’s about the same as last year,” Paul said.

“We had perfect weather for it...it was a great crowd.

“Sunday was nice and relaxing, and the music at the bowling club had people battling into the night.

“Friday night is a huge concert, people from Sydney reckon it’s worth a trip up alone.”

Festival goers – some travelling hundreds of kilometres to attend the festival – came from Coffs Harbour, the South Coast, Brisbane, Canberra, Nyngan, Mudgee and nearby areas such as Dubbo and Orange.

“We get a lot from Parkes and Forbes who come out for the day. Some attend the camel races (in Forbes), then come out here,” Paul said.

“We also had a lot from the South Coast, from Wollongong right down to Nowra.”

But one thing that stood out for Paul this year was there wasn’t as many younger families with primary school-aged children in attendance.

“It was more of an older crowd this year,” he said.

“The increasing thing we’ve seen is the grey nomads who get out of Sydney and come to Tullamore first.

“...You see them all out helping one another. They’re on their way to Western Australia and this is their first port of call, it’s incredible.

“Some stay for a couple of extra nights to miss the traffic, which I think is a great idea, the caravan park is still half full,” Paul said on Monday.

Of course age is never a factor as festival goers were exposed to a more music-concert feel to the event this year.

The new change was so successful, Paul believes it’s here to stay.

As expected Damien Leith was a hit, with Paul saying he was very well received when he performed on Saturday night.

It’s the third time Damien has headed to Tullamore, incorporating a bit more of a Roy Orbison influence to his music for 2017.

“It was a good concert, they wanted him to keep going,” Paul laughed.

“After playing for two hours, he has tea with us then he goes to the bowling club and it’s such a friendly atmosphere there, they all treat him like he’s a local.”

Making their first appearance at Tullamore were the Seltic Sirens, who also performed on Saturday.

These award winning artists, Paul said, took the festival up another notch.

But above all it was the support the committee received that was the highlight for Paul.

He said the committee still consists of the original members, who a number of them are farmers and their spare time – particularly during harvest – can be stretched at times.

“Without them we wouldn’t have a festival...they work very hard,” Paul said. 

“But we have people far and wide wanting to help, you don’t just come to be entertained, you come and be part of the festival.

“Michael Green from Parkes was a big help, he helped coordinate the entertainment.

“I’m indebted to the friends of our committee.”