For the second year in a row the idyllic surrounds of Berry, NSW became the home of Fairgrounds Festival last weekend.
Expanding to a two-day event in its sophomore year, Fairgrounds really came into its own in 2016. Exuding genuine carnival vibes and with a lineup that was enough to make anyone sweat with excitement (probably with the inclusion of Rodriguez alone), it was pretty much the perfect way to spend the first weekend of summer. And although its pretty hard to explain just how good a festival Fairgrounds is, here are 5 reasons why this year ruled, and why you should definitely go in 2017.
An idyllic location, activities and tasty eats, zero dickheads and a killer lineup – 5 reasons why Fairgrounds is the most well-rounded festival ever.
A Much Needed Dose of Diversity
First off, it’s got to be said that the ladies absolutely owned Fairgrounds in 2016. Angel Olsen, Julia Jacklin, Julien Baker, Bec Sandridge, the boss frontwoman from Sheer Mag, Gab Cohen, Ali Barter, Sarah Blasko – each of them stole the show in their own way.
This year has seen some excellent strides made when it comes to diversity on festival line ups, and Fairgrounds was the icing on the cake in this respect. Of course, everyone on the lineup killed it – you can’t go past the manic virility of King Gizzard, the iconic mastery of Rodriguez or the ability that Jagwar Ma have to put on a rager of a party – but the sheer magnitude of female talent at Fairgrounds was palpable this year. Hats off to those booking the festival – you’re doing a bang up job.
Have you ever been to Berry? No? Well, it’s pretty much the nicest place ever. The South Coast of NSW is damn beautiful and Berry harnesses everything that the area rightfully boasts.
It’s tucked in the foothills of lush mountains, but it’s also about a ten minute drive from the beach (which is a goddamn blessing if you need to wash off the dust and haze from the night before). It’s also on a train line so if you’re not driving to Fairgrounds then you’re not completely screwed.
If you are driving down, it’s a pretty easy run from Sydney (2 hours if traffic is being kind) so the haggard drive home isn’t so bad.
The festival itself takes place at the Berry Showgrounds which is about 200m from the town centre, so much needed amenities like cafes, servos and the pub are always at hand. Plus, there’s shitloads of parking everywhere. Heaps of cafes. Heaps of dogs to help cure your hangover. Heaps of places to stay close-by. And heaps of places to park your car to sleep in on the side of the road if you forgot to book accommodation (not recommended – the mosquitos in Berry are ruthless).
What was impossible to miss at Fairgrounds this year was the unmistakable lack of dickheads lurking around. Everybody hates a dickhead, and more and more boutique festivals are asserting a firm “no dickhead policy” – actually most are boasting it – but you have to wonder how exactly they are pulling this off.
Somehow, Fairgrounds manage it – it’s almost eerie. If you jumped on someone’s shoulders at any given time throughout the festival you would gaze out sea of heads, but no dicks. And this is a rare and glorious sight at a music festival. So if any dickheads are reading this and thinking of going next year – how ’bout you don’t.
I had a chat to a local on the street while hunting for a cafe and asked her what she thought of the festival and how it compared to last year. She said this year killed it on the food front (where last year was apparently lacking) and I have to agree.
An armada of Sydney food heroes made it down the Berry to set up camp for the weekend like the crew from Bovine and Swine, Japanese food truck Shiso Fine, Pizza De Mario and a bunch of legends whose entire menu featured variations of mac and cheese (if anyone knows their name, please post below – I need to eat that again).
On top on the mammoth selection available, there were pretty much no lines to worry about. The same goes for the bars – there were more than you could throw a stick at, so lines were pretty much non-existent. Again, not sure how Fairgrounds managed this, but hats off to them.
So Many Activities
Aside from a diverse lineup, another aspect that Fairgrounds nails is the variety of stuff you can do throughout the festival.
If you’ve got kids, no problem, there’s a pool to throw them in to. If you want to buy some records, there’s a vinyl fair to hunt through. If you want to listen to Japandroids talk about the records that have inspired them, there’s a Record Club you can go to. If you feel like a good old sack race, you can do that too. Or if you just want to sit on a pub bench and sink numerous beers in the sun, you can do that too, while being serenaded by Big Scary.
I know this probably reads like a huge over glorification of what appears to be just another boutique festival amongst a myriad of others that are popping up more and more, but Fairgrounds is just really, really good, and you should probably go next year. Cya there.