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    Helen Andrews and Janine Smith at the 2019 Jailhouse Rock Festival.

Jailhouse rockers are ready to jive at Ararat Town Hall


Lovers of swingin‘ ’60s and old-school rock ’n’ roll can enjoy a taste of a simpler time this weekend at Ararat Jailhouse Rock Festival. 

The three-day event attracts people from across the country to either put  on their dancing shoes or appreciate vintage cars and motorcycles.

Committee member Pauline Alley said the unique personality of the festival had been a key economic booster to tourism in Ararat.

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“It’s good for the community because it’s putting something back into the community,” she said.

“If you’re a business, ideally, you’d do something to attract people to your shop during the weekend, because there are heaps of people out and about. It brings hundreds of people into Ararat. They require accommodation and most definitely want something to eat or drink. So, it’s good in the way that it showcases the town. 

“People stay for the weekend. They have a look around the area. They might visit J-ward or Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre, or even take a day trip to Halls Gap.” 

Ms Alley said Ararat had been hosting the ’50s and ’60s festival for 26 years, adding that car and music lovers alike would rejoice during the three days of themed music, dances and a Grampians Vintage Car Club show-and-shine event.

She said continued support from community and tourists kept the festival alive. 

“To be able to have a festival is a big drawcard for the town. It would be great if more people could jump on board. We want to keep this festival going,” she said. 

“The dedication of the volunteers who put lots of hours into making sure the weekend is a success and the people who come along year after year is why the event is so successful.”

A team of volunteers with the support of Ararat Rural City Council run the festival. Organisers are expecting about 500 attendees each day and more than 80 entrants in the car show, an increase on last year.

“It’s not just people from western Victoria, we’ve got people coming from Tasmania, Queensland, Adelaide and across Australia,” Ms Alley said. 

“People like to dance, they enjoy the music and the cars. There were 80 cars last year, and we’re looking at 100 on Saturday.” 

Starting in 1995, the event is a throwback to a different era, where attendees are encouraged to jive to their heart’s content.

Festivities will start Friday night with a band and DJ launching a weekend full of entertainment.

Rockers can bop on down to Ararat Town Hall to catch all the entertainment.  

Bands Kid James Trio, Melbourne-based Honky Tonk Rockers and The Fender Benders will jam out to timeless hits. 

 “We try to pick what the public want for music,” Ms Alley said.

“Kid James is an up-and-coming new band and they’re fairly popular. The Fender Benders and the Honky Tonk Rockers will be playing ’60s rock ’n’ roll such as Everly Brothers, Elvis and many more.”

Sunday activities will also include live rock ’n’ roll music, children’s entertainment, food stalls, a barbecue, Jailhouse Show ’n’ Shine and a themed fashion parade where festival- goers can sport their best rockabilly outfits. 

The entire March 11, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!