Future of Woodford Folk Festival is with the youth

by Anna Dreyer

Woodford opening ceremony
Uncle Noel Blair with walking stick in hand, leads the Woodford Folk Festival welcoming ceremony. Photo by Dylan Crawford @seewhatdsees

The future of the Woodford Folk Festival is held by the next generation, and they should be encouraged to carry on and reinvent its traditions.

So says Uncle Noel Blair, who represents four Aboriginal clan groups spanning from Caboolture, to Samford and down to the Brisbane River, up to the Blackbutt Ranges, Kenilworth and back to the Glasshouse Mountains, including Maleny. He led the festival’s welcoming ceremony as part of the official opening of this year’s festival, and is now the festival’s official custodian.

 ”There are four or five generations of people coming here,” Uncle Noel says. “Young people are our future.”

The Jinibara people who he represents are the registered Native Title Holders for the Woodford area. As both custodian and spokesperson, Uncle Noel sees his role as helping to organise, develop and promote the Jinabara culture the best way he can.

He says one of the best aspects of the festival is that peoples from all over the world come to this meeting place and children have the chance to engage with that.

“They have the perfect opportunity to learn here,” he says.

“What happens here, doesn’t happen anywhere else that I know of.

“We have international people, international artists and people from all over the world. They all come together to promote their culture and their arts and crafts but also to intergrate and mingle with each other.

“How else can you understand other people if you can’t communicate with them? You don’t know what they stand for.” Uncle Noel says people can learn about many different cultures at the Woodford Folk Festival, not only Indigenous, but from other nationalities all around the world.

“Here you get the opportunity,” he says.

“The number of acts here, they are all different in their make up. It’s presented in a cultural way.

“People come along because they want to learn and experience different things and Woodford provides all of that.

“Everybody that comes here, comes for the same purpose. To enjoy themselves, to be happy and free, peace and harmony, respect and a beautiful attitude towards each other.”

Uncle Noel gifted a traditionally made Woodfordia boomerang to Griffith University in appreciation of the connection with the institution.

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