Glenferrie Festival: Humble beginnings

For at least 23 years for one day each year Glenferrie Road is closed to traffic between Burwood and Barkers Road, for traders and the community to enjoy the day with entertainment, activities and food. Over the years the Glenferrie Festival has evolved in many different aspects.

In the beginning Originally started by a small committee of traders who were looking to promote the area and shops of Glenferrie Road, the Festival was established around 1995. The committee of four ran the first few festival themselves and the committee grew to six members around 1997. As the Festival grew its offerings and in success the committee engaged a co-ordinator who they would work with to plan and organise the event. The now nine-member committee of the Glenferrie Traders Association continue to engage a co-ordinator known as the Event Manager. Where things were As the shops and traders on Glenferrie Road, along with the organising committee, have evolved so to has the placement and logistics of the Festival. Always between Burwood and Barkers Roads, the Festival has filled out more and more in between and the side streets along Glenferrie Road are being used more each year. In some years past, the events went far down the side streets and in some years there were multiple stages along and beyond Glenferrie Road. Each year improvements are made from what worked or didn’t work from past years. Closing the road The novelty of the Glenferrie Festival is the closure of the road. It’s such a thrill to walk down the middle of the usually very busy Glenferrie Road. In the early years of the Festival, the trams were not stopped and instead would slowly go down the road. Kids on skateboards would hang onto the back bumper of the tram and catch a ride. These days the road is completely closed to both vehicles and trams. Where the trams stop has also changed over time. For many years the tram would stop south of Burwood Road, all the way down at Kooyong Tennis Club. In recent years the tram stops north of Burwood Road, under the Glenferrie Railway bridge.

Funding The budget for the Festival and the source of funding has shifted over the years. Around 1995 a special rate and charge levy on properties in Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn was introduced. At this time there was competition from Chadstone Shopping Centre which was about to extend and the opening of the Tooronga Shopping Centre. The traders of Glenferrie jumped on the idea of this levy as a way to promote themselves and the area. Jane Nathan encouraged the implementation of this levy and fostered it for several years until the Committee took it over. In the early years, some of this levy was used to fund a modest Festival budget of around $20,000.00. Now the cost is approximately $65,000.00+. In the last ten years the City of Boroondara have recognised the importance of the Glenferrie Festival and now directly part-fund the Festival. This part-funding from Council, along with the levy that is collected on properties along Glenferrie Road and some Burwood Road properties, is what now completely funds the Festival.

Community Groups The Festival has often provided fundraising opportunities for local community groups or simply exposure for them. Community groups involved in the Festival has changed across the years and have included; Swinburne University, local Rotary Clubs, Hawthorn Football Club, Hawthorn Community Chest, local kindergartens and schools. In 2002 Swinburne University sponsored the main stage of the festival and in 2014 there was the Festival of Ideas in Swinburne University Square.

Time of the year The date of the festival is currently set in March but it wasn’t always this way. In the past the festival was held in May. The date often depended on things like permits, the trams, the co-ordinator or even the date and location of other Festivals around Melbourne. It became clear that May was too late as one year the festival rained out which really put a damper on the day. With the date now in early March, the Festival has seen ongoing success and has been growing each year.

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