Festival gives back to community

It’s no secret the Secret Garden festival was a huge success this year, but their charity work often goes unnoticed.

The annual music festival is not-for-profit and has raised more than $200,000 for local charities.

Event organiser Clare Downes said they expect the funds will go up significantly after this year’s event.

“When we started the festival first and foremost we wanted it to be a fun party and secondly we wanted to make a positive impact on our local community,” she said.

‘We support young local artists and up-and-coming musicians along with raising money for charities.

“I think the event would have a different feel if we did it for profit, but we have a large volunteer community who are happy to work at the festival knowing that we are raising funds for charity.”

Ms Downes said giving back to the community was a huge part of the Secret Garden ethos.

This year they helped to raise $30,000 for Cobbitty Public School through a breakfast barbecue.

Parents and Citizen’s Association president Amy Rodgers said the school was grateful for the fundraising opportunity.

“It allows us to provide resources to improve the education of all the kids at Cobbitty,” she said.

“All the parents that volunteer over the weekend cooking and serving have a great time.

“The festival goers are all polite, happy and so supportive of what we are trying to do for our kids.

“This is not only a great way for us to raise funds for our children but a great way to bring our school community together." 

Secret Garden also supports local businesses wherever possible, including Camden Hire, Cobbitty General Store, Express Waste and Guana Graffix.

Ms Downes is the 6th generation of her family to be raised in Camden and the festival is held on her family farm in Cobbitty. 

Not many parents would let their child host a 5000 person music festival on the family farm, but Ms Downes said her parents were supportive.

“It’s the perfect location because the farm is quite isolated so it becomes a bit of a home away from home for our guests,” she said.

“The majority of them are Camden locals so they are really proud to have this event right on their doorstep.

“Our ‘Gardeners’ are good people, there might be a few bad eggs but the overwhelming amount of people who come to this event are really good people.”