PICTURES: Jazz festival exceeds expectations

TED Woollan remembers peoples' reactions in February last year when he first mentioned the idea of starting a jazz event in Castlemaine.

"We had plenty of people say it's not possible," Mr Woollan said.

"They said, 'it's too hard, you're crazy, you'll never get it up and running'."

But Mr Woollan and his fellow organisers didn't listen to the naysayers.

Since the festival has been in swing this weekend, Mr Woollan has had very different feedback.

"People have time and time again said they couldn't believe we could set up a festival of that size," he said.

Mr Woollan and fellow organisers originally budgeted for 300 festival goers, but on Sunday afternoon sold out of tickets.

He said visitor numbers had reached more than 500. 

The visitors were mostly from Melbourne but there were some from interstate.

Musician attendance also exceeded expectations.

Mr Woollan said the organising committee had hoped to get 30-35 jazz ensembles.

Instead they have had 58 bands and a total of 225 musicians.

"Word among musicians got around very fast," Mr Woollan said.

He said no musicians were paid, they were all asked to volunteer their time for the festival's first year.

Mr Woollan said local venues had been "very brave" to host the jazz festival because he couldn't guarantee how many people would actually come.

He said he hoped more local venues might put their hand up next year, having seen how well it went this time.

He estimated the total expenditure brought into Castlemaine over the weekend was about $100,000.

"We want local businesses to prosper from it," he said.

Mr Woollan has been a pianist since the age of 14 and performed throughout the weekend.

He accompanied singer Sevil Sabah at The Comma Bar and Bistro on Sunday afternoon.


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