Post by Stephanie Lightfoot.
This Saturday 27 October, The Patch Primary School community comes together for the first ever PatchFest. I spoke with The Patch School parent and festival committee member, CJ Baxter, for her insider’s tips for the day.
Over the last several months, kids, parents, teachers, alumnae and the wider hills community have been working towards whole-school fundraiser, PatchFest; its theme: ‘It takes a village’, a proverbial nod to these efforts, as well as its aims. Given the small scale of both the school and the town, pulling the event together has meant seeking support beyond these bounds – among the event’s major sponsors are winery Helen & Joey Estate, in Gruyere, and vintage retailer, Fleetwood Collection, in Belgrave. The breadth of the day’s program, too – spanning live music, arts activities and workshops, a Marketplace, chai tent, beer garden and community bonfire – speaks to diverse ages, interests and curiosities. The idea, CJ says, is to create a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere in which both those within and outside of the school community feel involved and welcome; to affirm that ‘we’re all here to support one another’.
This allusion to wellbeing is pertinent. Though not geared toward one particular cause or project, CJ tells me that some of the funds raised will be allocated to the development of a Wellbeing Centre at the school. This will provide a space for both students and parents to support themselves, and one another.
CJ and her partner, Kathleen Snowball, or Snowy – who has headed the PatchFest music committee – have been running businesses and events in the area for a number of years – notably, the End of the Line Festival in Belgrave (which ran from 2012–2015), and the Skylark Room in Upwey. Following their departure from Skylark earlier this year, PatchFest has been in the works. So, what can we expect from the Fest?
Right off the bat, CJ mentions The Bean Project – whose members include past Patch student, Ben Langdon; and the more recent Patch alum, the ‘ridiculously talented’ Sadie, performing on the day. They’re in good company; with Spiritus, Eddie Cole, Miller, and the Chops also playing sets. These diverse, ‘top-notch’ acts, among others, will perform across three stages, one of which will also be graced by current Patch students. Together with a buskers’ area, there’s no shortage of musical delights on offer. And, though the line-up may give some of the better known arts and music festivals a run for their money, entry is free!
This amalgamation of talent from both inside and beyond the school community is consistent throughout PatchFest. The Marketplace, curated by Danielle De Valence, of the Fleetwood Collection, will peddle the wares of Patch students, professional artisans, and local vintage collectors. The school’s emphasis on the environment is highlighted here – with sustainability being one of the key criteria upon which Year 5 and 6 students’ pilot Marketplace products were judged. In line with this, PatchFest is plastic bag-free, and there will be no balloons, or disposable plates, cups, or cutlery on site.
When it comes to fuelling up, CJ tells me the school’s woodfire pizza oven will be ‘cranking all day’, among other goodies homemade and homebaked by Patch students and families. And, for some more mature refreshment, there’s beautiful, Yarra Valley wines from Helen & Joey Estate.
For those keen to fit in some learning, there’s also a Workshop Hub, with a number of ‘Pay as you feel’ classes. Here, you can flex your dramatic muscles with The Patch-based Storey Players, learn the basics of the ukelele with Patch School ukelele teacher Jess Dunn, or discover the joy of communal singing with Jessica McNabb and the Sweet Sassafras Choir.
The day concludes with a community bonfire on the school oval. When I asked what will fuel the fire, CJ tells me that the home of one of the parents on the PatchFest committee backs onto the oval; having recently had to chop down a tree, they will provide the goods. Not to mention, the dozens of local businesses that have donated products, services and vouchers towards fundraising via a silent auction and raffles on the day.
This patent sense of generosity and collaboration is by no means anomalous in the hills – where, CJ corroborates, many people move to, to immerse themselves in community. Certainly, the Patch Primary community seems to be thriving.
For more information, check out PatchFest on Facebook.
PatchFest 2018: ‘It takes a village’
Cost: Free entry
When: Saturday 27 October, 2pm–9pm
Where: The Patch Primary School
53 Kallista-Emerald Road, The Patch