The folk music was fine, shame about the lack of crowd

TUNING UP: Musician and organiser Phil Garland at the Festival of the Arts Te Aroha music mix on Sunday.
TUNING UP: Musician and organiser Phil Garland at the Festival of the Arts Te Aroha music mix on Sunday.

Sunny skies and soulful singers were in harmony over Queen's Birthday Weekend at the Te Aroha Arts Festival.

The four-day event saw an array of music, culture and artistic displays at venues around the mountainside town.

A Maori-themed karaoke night was held on Friday at St Joseph's Church Hall, with performers singing along to common Maori waiata.

Organiser Phil Garland said more than 50 people turned up to Saturday's concert, where a choir and musicians came together to play what they'd learned in music and vocal workshops throughout the day.

On Sunday, invited guest artists from Britain, Auckland, Pirongia and Katikati performed at St Joseph's Church Hall, from 10am at the main event titled Folk Under the Mountain. Local Jan Wilson said she would have loved to have seen more people at Sunday's events, but thought the music was beautiful. "Folk people are folk people though and they are happy to sing if there's one person in the crowd or 500."

Her favourites were performers, Bev and Al Young and Claire Senior and Nick Johnston, all from Auckland.

Despite the disappointing turnout to Sunday's daytime part of the festival, Garland said Sunday evening's grand finale attracted about 50 guests. "We had a bit of competition, there was a folk festival in the Firth of Thames which we only heard about after we planned this one, but we're not completely deterred."

Garland, who was awarded a Queen's Service Medal this year for his services to folk music, said he'd like the event to run again next year but in a slightly different format and probably on a different weekend. "All the people have been coming away saying how fantastic it was and how they wished more people were there."

Yesterday's event was unplugged performances at the Old Court House Arts Centre during the afternoon.

Corolyn Stephenson, who worked in the kitchen, said her ladies sold $170 of food on Sunday, with proceeds going toward a replacement van for Te Aroha St John.

Waikato Times