25, 26, 27 October

History of the
Dorrigo Folk
& Bluegrass

In 2002 Jack Sommers, of The Sommers Family Band, started The Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival with the enormous help of a small dedicated team. It’s genesis August 30th- September 1st 2002 at the Dorrigo Showgrounds, NSW, Australia. There were approximately 300 people in attendance, most of them visitors to the area.

The Festival is now one of the Major Events in Dorrigo. We have over 1,000 patrons from all over the country, many of whom have been coming since the festival’s inception. Our line-up for the last 5 years has consisted of 40+ bands, local, National and International. The Festival has been nurtured to a size where it is able to continue yet still holds a very authentic and homely atmosphere. The Festival Committee is proud that we’re able to present the finest traditional, contemporary and acoustic music to you, our dearest patrons. We find joy in seeing festival audiences and musicians connecting, jamming and enjoying what we can so happily and humbly provide. To us, the festival is all about that connection and the celebration of it.

Photo by Glen Jackson

The DF&BF Inc. supports all creative arts and we believe they are the pinnacle of culture and our diversity. They evoke emotion, bring the stragglers and the masses together, allow imagination, beg for unique connections between seemingly disparate ideas and accompany our originality. And we believe that is what the festival has achieved over the last 22 years and will continue to achieve.

The Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival Inc. embraces the diverse origins of folk, bluegrass, old-time and old-time country music and we believe that diversity and inclusion are essential to the well-being and continued growth of these genres and the Festival.

At the Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival we encourage, embrace and celebrate the participation and involvement by people of all abilities, genders, orientations, identities, faiths, cultures, and backgrounds. We seek to practice inclusion and aim to be proactive about educating ourselves and others.

Each year our programme features a combination of artists with a fresh realisation of music and practiced, well-versed artists from Australia and overseas. In 2017 we held the Inaugural Dorrigo Old-Time Music School featuring tutors from Australia and America. This is an opportunity for musicians of all ages and background to learn, jam and perform with tutors who have the knowledge, heritage and respect of Old-Time music. The school is not just for musicians focusing on the Old-Time genre, there are many skills taught at the camp that are applicable across a wide range of musical genres.

The Festival Committee recognises the importance of involving and providing younger generations with opportunities to perform and learn. Over the years the Festival Committee has worked alongside local artists involving local schools and community groups in visual arts projects. These are displayed in the venues over the festival weekend. It is important to us that we involve the youth of Dorrigo’s regional surrounds to provide them with a visual into different cultures. We have also worked with the local schools facilitating musicians to give workshops for school age students, who are then provided the opportunity to perform at the festival. Many different artistic opportunities have arisen from a strong partnership with Dorrigo’s schools and we are thrilled about it. During the Festival patrons are able to have a wander around the food and craft stalls to gain a little taste of the handmade crafts and fresh produce the local area has to provide.

The Festival prides itself in making all efforts possible to be environmentally friendly. To read more view our Festival Sustainability page.

Dangar Falls photo by Alex Spurway

The Festival is held at the Dorrigo Showgrounds on Gumbaynggirr Country, a 5 minute drive from the Dorrigo National Park and Rainforest Centre at the top of the mountain. We are lucky to be set in the area of World Heritage Listed Gondwana rainforest. Dorrigo and its surrounds is also home to many beautiful cascading waterfalls including Dangar Falls, 2 minutes drive from the Showground. The festival is held in Spring every year over the last weekend of October, when nature is at its finest and you can enjoy a fresh dip or a stroll in the green hills.

The Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival Inc. is a not-for profit event run completely by volunteers. The current committee is made up of  Bridget Rees, Angela Sommers Rees, Beth Henwood, Murray Langfield, Cassie Mila, Dene Cotter, Betsy Evans, Stephen Thiering and Alex Mooney. Our greatest thanks to the dedicated volunteers, musicians and festival patrons from all corners of the globe who support and make this event possible.

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