DAVID Frazer and his festival committee had a big roll of the dice when they launched the Echuca Riverboats Festival in 2012.
But three years later – and with this year’s festival set to sell out – the gamble has paid off the festival has found it’s niche market.
It is a tricky time for music festivals in general with a number of major ones rumoured to be close to running out of money.
The reason regional festivals including Groovin’ the Moo, Falls Festival and the Riverboats Music Festival succeed is the unique, country atmosphere they provide.
Frazer, the festival’s producer, said he and his fellow organisers have a list of things there are determined to tick off for the event.
“It’s an exciting time for us, going into (our third year) and building a passionate following of music lovers,” festival producer David Frazer said.
“It’s a saturated market but we are determined to create something different.
“Our point of difference is the boutique scale of the event. The natural ampitheathre is perfect event for families and people who want a weekend on Murray with no queues or mosh pits or massive bar prices.”
As in previous years when the likes of Pete Murray, Mark Seymour, Colin Hay, Tex Perkins, Clare Bowditch, Tim Rogers, James Reyne, Joe Camilleri and Archie Roach played, the festival line-up is impressive.
The Cat Empire headline this year’s festival alongside Tim Finn, Ian Moss, Paul Dempsey, Don Walker and Dan Kelly’s Dream Band.
“The line up is all fresh and we have been overwhelmed by the calibre of artists (that are playing),” Frazer said.
“It is a 12-month exercise to put together but we are finding the music communities are embracing this event.
“When you have someone like Cat Empire headlining, it makes it first class. Tim Finn coming over from New Zealand was a massive coup and there are a lot of acts from Sydney and vibrant music scene in Melbourne.”
Frazer said the festival also offers a personal touch to music lovers with artists often sticking around to sign merchandise and have a chat to fans.
“(Last year) Pete Murray was a consummate professional. He played and two hours later he was still there have a beer with his fans,” he said.
“It’s an experience that larger festivals can’t really offer especially when you have seven stages and all manner of security concerns.”
Frazer also said the festival is achance for audiences and artists to explore Echuca.
“We have had artists stay over. Mia Dyson and her band wanted to know a good swimming spot, Clare Bowditch brought her whole family up and made a weekend of it,” Frazer said.
“You forget that with all the touring, artists still have families and we love to hear they were in town for a couple of days.”
Last year the festival sold out with 12,000 people attending.
Tickets are still available for the Echuca Riverboats Festival. They cost $110 for a three-day pass. Log on to www.riverboatsmusic.com.au