Grow Your Own 2019 was a shining example of how one woman’s determination can unite an entire town
As your average music festival, both in Australia and overseas, grows rapidly into becoming a ‘once-in-a-lifetime, blockbuster’ event, it can be easy for us to lose sight of the roots of it all. A huge pulling factor in festivals these days are the amenities – what specialty bars do you have? how many clothing stalls do you have? DO YOU HAVE A GLITORIS TENT?!
But as the veteran festivals around it keep pouring more and more money to securing superstar headliners and theme park-level facilities, Forster-Tuncurry’s third annual Grow Your Own festival keeps its feet firmly planted on the ground and welcomes you with one, large, sweaty hug.
Despite the fact that the heat was absolutely blazing in Grow Your Own’s seaside venue, that didn’t stop the 3,000 or so punters from turning out and turning up. Every act lived up to the hype and the heat by completely letting go in front of a crowd that wouldn’t really be able to see them in a local setting like this otherwise.
As the afternoon glow basked across the crowd, Mallrat took to the stage as sweet as ever and gave everyone a moment to breathe. Her music as of late is all about calmness, catharsis and unashamed optimism. It’s almost as if her singing ‘Better’ and ‘Groceries’ summoned the sea breeze from across the treetops and cloaked us all in it.
Jack River, who actually founded the festival, brought her iconic brand of 90’s nostalgia alternative pop and gifted her hometown with it. Taking several moments to look out into the crowd almost in disbelief that so many people have loved what she’s put on, you could feel her love pour out into the audience. Even when she was told she only had one song left, she defiantly said “nope, I’m doing two” proving that no one in attendance wanted her to leave.
As the sun set and the weather cooled, the talent on stage only continued to heat up. The Preatures, Hockey Dad and DMA’s brought their wildly different interpretations of rock and the crowd lost their minds three times over. Whether it was Isabella Manfredi’s homage to the classic rock of yesteryear, Hockey Dad’s surf-infused tunes that couldn’t have found a better audience or DMA’s comedown of smooth and calming melodies as the event wrapped up, the event’s music lineup seemingly went off without a hitch.
A large part of Grow Your Own’s appeal is its spotlight on local produce. In the festival’s dead centre, a small ersatz market resided that was flocked with people until the festival’s end. The smell of freshly-baked bread, pesto and other goods wafted through the market tent, and suddenly you forgot you were at a festival at all. This was really the event’s centrepiece, exactly as it intended.
However, while the festival’s intimacy and tight-knit nature was special, it also could’ve used just a little bit of a larger festival’s amenities. For example, having three or four food trucks can be a little problematic once dinnertime hits and the lines are taking 30 minutes to get through. On top of that, the festival had really, really limited shade options. Any semblance of shade was like hot real estate, with every last inch of it being taken up.
Going forward, Grow Your Own might want to spring for some more shade and some more food, but they’ve got everything else sewn up. A wonderful mix of local tunes and local produce, GYO is a shining example of how one woman’s determination can unite an entire town.
Photo by Dan Lynch for Purple Sneakers
Words by JACKSON LANGFORD