This year's Grow Your Own festival has a new venue

THE Great Lakes will once again host locally-curated music festival, Grow Your Own on December 22.

This year the venue has switched from Club Forster to Peter Barclays Sports Field in Tuncurry to cater for the hundreds who missed out last year when it sold out six weeks before the event.

The one-day festival will feature Cloud Control, Skegss, The Belligerents, The Babe Rainbow, The Gooch Palms, Ruby Fields, Alex the Astronaut, LOS SCALLYWAGGS, The Ruiins and The Little Quirks, with DJ sets from I OH YOU DJs and Pina Coladascope.

The Great Lakes Advocate talked to the festival director and creative director on the vision for this year’s event and why the event was born in the Great Lakes.

It started from a love of where they are from – and grew into something others could be part of too.

Like many young people from the Great Lakes Holly Rankin and Lee McConnell left Forster to explore life in the city.

Holly became a triple j plugged musician Jack River, started an events company, The Hopeless Utopian and is now the director of Grow Your Own festival and other Australian music events.

The festival’s creative director Lee went on to become the art director at iconic Australian brand Mambo, a role he has since left to pursue freelance work.

The pair’s success has come down to hard work, but the influence of their life growing up in the Great Lakes has been a constant theme throughout the sandy, hazy sounds of Holly’s music and the tropic and environmental ideas inside Lee’s artworks.

They each boast love for the natural environment of the area but most of all it’s the people.

“I grew up in Forster with the biggest bunch of passionate and creative people I’ve ever met,” Holly said. 

“After living in cities for seven years now we couldn't help but realise what we have at home is so special –  the music, the produce and the natural environment. Grow Your Own is an expression of all things that we love about our area.”

The bands were chosen for their sound or their ties to the Mid North and Central coasts.

Headliners and past ARIA award nominees Cloud Control recorded their latest album Zone in Charlotte Bay near Pacific Palms.

Fellow headliner Skegss, also from the Great Lakes, has enjoyed huge national success and even international tours in recent years.

Good music isn’t the only thing Grow Your Own sets out to expose –  this year it will have a Growers Area featuring producers from the Mid North Coast.

“We have created the Growers Area to amplify the incredible and innovative farmers, producers and beverage makers of our local area,” Holly said.

“The Great Lakes is teeming with innovative produce businesses but we don’t always get to know about them. We'll be shining a national spotlight on this, alongside the music.”

Grow Your Own isn’t merely a celebration of the area, but an important tool in boosting its economy.

Up to 200 locals are expected to be employed or will volunteer with the festival as it becomes a recognised event on the Australian festival calendar.

“People are expected to travel for the festival which will inject money into the area as people stay and get to know why we love our home,” Lee said.

Tickets go on sale 9am on Friday September 15 at: