Merimbula Jazz Festival: Jazz fest a real spectacle

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TUNEFUL: The Sapphire Coast Jazz Band was one of the highlights at last year's Jazz Hatters Party.

TUNEFUL: The Sapphire Coast Jazz Band was one of the highlights at last year's Jazz Hatters Party.

From June 7-10 the streets of Merimbula will come alive with the sounds and sights of the town's 39th jazz festival.

Merimbula Jazz Festival program co-ordinator Paul Dion has been involved in the organisation of this special event for the past decade.

He said planning was a year-round process involving a large committee of volunteers who put in significant time and effort to see the event through successfully year after year. Visitors come from all over the country and bring an estimated $3 million boost for the local economy with them.

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"We are very excited to have over 680 musicians coming up this year in 107 bands," Mr Dion said. "We have a huge variety of music - ranging from small groups, to duos, solos, trios, quartets, sextets and big bands, covering a broad spectrum of musical styles from jazz blues to traditional jazz, modern jazz, funky jazz, big band modern jazz and big band swing dance jazz. It's a very comprehensive program this year."

Aside from the sweeping array of musical styles, the festival will also feature the new Streetfest, in which Market Street will be closed off to create a jazz mall with stalls, exhibits and live bands playing. Various community groups will take part in the street parade which starts at 10.30am on the Saturday, along with the vintage car club, Merimbula Water Dragons, the Royal Australian Navy Band, and other musicians and marching bands.

CLASSY: Gordon Brown from Captain Bob's Station House Ramblers at last year's Merimbula Jazz Festival.

CLASSY: Gordon Brown from Captain Bob's Station House Ramblers at last year's Merimbula Jazz Festival.

A new attraction for the jazz festival, the Merimbula Lakeside Lantern Walk, will take place on the Saturday evening and involves local school children. The walk begins at 5.30pm from Spencer Park to Beach Street, ending at Market Street. Jazz Quest, a competition featuring big cash prizes for participants aged 25 years and under, will be held at Lake View Hotel on Saturday night.

"Jazz Art, which involves our local artists, is in its fifth year," Mr Dion said. "We invite local artists from the Bega Valley to create a painting with a jazz theme and each year we select one most suitable for the following year's poster." The seniors jazz art will be on display at Club Sapphire over the weekend, while the junior art competition will be held at Twyford Hall. These paintings are for sale.

HAPPY FACES: The Pambula-Merimbula CWA members make a colourful splash as they wait for the start of the parade at last year's festival.

HAPPY FACES: The Pambula-Merimbula CWA members make a colourful splash as they wait for the start of the parade at last year's festival.

On Sunday, an ecumenical service will be held at Club Sapphire at 11am. "The service usually attracts about 400 people and we are expecting to top that," Mr Dion said. A free Jazz Hatters Party will take place at Club Sapphire on the Monday. It will feature six bands, a crazy hat competition and raffles.

Visitors to the festival can get their jazz passes at Twyford Hall, with the cost $90 for a weekend pass. Day passes are available at individual venues. For more information visit www.merimbulajazz.org.au.

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This story Merimbula Jazz Festival: Jazz fest a real spectacle first appeared on Merimbula News Weekly.