By Elisabeth Champion
AN INAUGURAL music festival to be held in the heart of Mount Gambier has already attracted attention, with pre-sale tickets selling out in hours.
The Stone and Dust Festival was announced this week, with a cracking lineup of Australian artists including rock band Spiderbait, hiphop artists Drapht and Seth Sentry and Melbourne rock band Kingswood, set to perform at the Old Mount Gambier Gaol in November.
Also hitting the stage will be a number of local bands and performers.
Festival organiser and owner of the Gaol Jamie Stephenson said the festival was designed specifically for the Limestone Coast and is the culmination of more than two years hard work.
The festival was designed for Mount Gambier and the Limestone Coast,“ he said..
“I’ve been working on it for two and a half years now, so hopefully, if it’s well received locally and we get good numbers that will be something that we can do every year, which will be really exciting for the Limestone Coast.“
He expected the festival to not only attract locals, but people from all around Australia, giving the region a much-needed economic injection.
“My last eight shows every show bought at least a million dollars into the economy,“ he said.
“People will be coming, we’ll be promoting it through all of regional Victoria and all of regional South Australia, so hopefully we’ll have buses from all the little towns, either side of the border and hopefully it does generate a lot of money into the economy, which is obviously what Mount Gambier needs in the long term.“
Mr Stephenson is no stranger to music festivals, as an organiser of the Red Hot Summer Tour, but he wanted this one to have a distinctly Mount Gambier feel.
“It was important for me to have our own identity,“ he said.
“I think the town and region as a whole has been had a lot of struggle and troubled times with small business and loss of jobs and everything that’s come with with Covid in the last couple of years.
“So it’s great for the community, and they deserve it.
“I just think it’s time to dust off the shoes and get out and have a bit of a dance, and I’m fortunate enough that I’ve got the ability to create something like this for the town.
“I just love to see smiley faces. So it’s I think it’s a great thing for for the town. And I think it’s well deserved and the community deserve to get something like this happen in their town.
It seems locals agree, with the presale tickets for the show selling out in just 24 hours.
The festival is about more than just music however, with Mr Stephenson hoping it will raise funds for mental health services in the region, an idea prompted by his own losses to suicide in the past few years.
“It’s going to be a big, big fundraiser to anxiety, depression and suicide in the region,“ he said.
“I’m not sure how we’re going to do it because we want to keep the money locally, we don’t want it to go to organisations in the cities, we want it for this region.
“The whole thing will be a big fundraiser – I’ve had two or three close people from family and friends that have taken their lives over the last year or two.
“So it’s really important that we get that message out and we just want people to be proud of something that they’re they’re a part of.
“It can grow with the community, it’s not about me or the gaol or anything like that.
“It’s purely to do that the town deserves it. So let’s jump up and down and have a dance and and try to get some smiles on people’s faces.“
With all the work that goes into the planning of an event of this scale, Mr Stephenson knew who he wanted as the headline act.
“I wanted from the start to have Spiderbait on the list.
“It’s one of my favourite bands from late 90s and early 2000s, so it’s really exciting to have Spiderbait on the bill. And obviously Drapht, Kingswood and Seth Sentry are all amazing Australian artists as well.
“I’m really happy with the with the first lineup for Stone and Dust.“
The festival will be held on November 12.