Have you ever wanted to go on a real treasure hunt?
Picture this – you have to complete a challenge to get in to the game and once you do, you trade your entry ticket to get the right key to open up doorways to get challenges. After you complete a handful of challenges, you go on a quest which involves a number of steps and once that is complete, you gain the opportunity of being a player in a team scavenger hunt or perform on stage in front of hundreds of people.
Well, if this sounds like fun to you, I highly recommend you book in the Woodford Folk Festival 2011. Having been to 31 countries and partied in many of them as well as partaking in a number of festivals, I personally feel that Woodford is the best festival in the world for music, fun, friends, adventures, entertainment, creativity and generally spending time in a kind of utopian environment for a week. It takes place between Christmas and New Year and is located about an hour north of Brisbane.
This year I had the good fortune of being a volunteer at Woodford and I was part of the FBI – Festival Bureau of Interactivity. Our job was to be the characters in the Festival Game.
The brainchild of Tim Monley, there was a story which weaved through the 13 booths across the huge valley site which involved individuals from a pack of cards as many of the characters. I was the Jack of Spades and in the story I worked with the Jack of Hearts in the Department of the Kingdom of Diamonds. I was also in love with the Queen of Hearts who lived in a tree and I was desperately trying to get her out of the tree so I could make a move on her.
My responsibility was to spend up to 6 hours per day in a booth where I would give the players who came to me challenges or quests. Some of them involved me sending messages to my Queen (the players would take them to her) where she would write responses and enclose feathers as a token gesture. There were scandals and love affairs as well as Woodileaks who were the purveyors of ‘truth’ in the game and added to the fun.
Without going in to too much detail, the players had a great time and I’ve since heard that this was the biggest version of a game like this ever to take place in any festival. Our goal was to get 3,000 players however I estimate we probably hit around 2,000.
At Woodford this year we also had Ninja Theatre. This involved spontaneous dancing and singing at random locations around the site (you were notified by SMS if you registered your number) which the general public had no idea about. Many of them had never seen things like this before such as a dance rendition of Singing in the Rain and Hammertime which took place in a busy intersection in the middle of the day. I was involved with a Ninja Theatre Drama where myself and three others were in on the act, but the rest of the public had no idea.
What happened is that I went on stage between bands and I spoke about how lovely Woodford was and how 5 years ago I had met a beautiful woman and I wanted to say something special to her (she was my girlfriend in the drama). I took her up on stage and after a few words, got down on one knee to propose. Just before I popped the question, a girl in the audience stood up and said, ‘But David, what about me – don’t I mean anything to you?’ as you can imagine, quite an interesting interaction ensued, however fortunately I won my girl over (thanks Phoebe, you were awesome) and she accepted my proposal, despite a handful of people in the audience shouting out that I shouldn’t be trusted and that she should say no.
We even had someone rush up with champagne and others congratulate us on our engagement. What a laugh! I have yet to see the video of this, but apparently a friend of mine has it.
All in all, I’d have to say that if you live in Australia and especially if you live in Brisbane or around this area, that you really should get along to Woodford, even for just one day – it truly is an experience you will remember for ever.
Until December 2011!