Melbourne’s biggest Bear festival is fast approaching, with plenty of chest rugs converging south to keep you warm in the cooler months.

VicBears vice president Luke Mitchell told the Star Observer that preparations are running smoother this year as the countdown begins.

“We’re much more on track than we were last year,” Mitchell said.

“Last year we had a few changes of committee during the year which meant we were running around a bit like chooks with their heads cut off, but now we’ve got people spear-heading Hibearnation and making sure that we’re delegating properly, so it’s come together really well.”

After conducting surveys after last year’ festival, Mitchell said they’ve tailored 2011 to include more venues and events based on the feedback, without losing the drawcard nights.

“We haven’t changed many of the crowd-drawing staples this year, so we’ve still got the big ones like UnderBear — which is always a massive party — Mr Australasia Bear which always sees the Laird reach capacity, and the Round Up dance party at The Peel to close everything out.”

The biggest change to the line-up of events this year will be the inclusion of a popular Laird event, Bearaoke, which has previously been separate from the festival of fur. The Thursday karaoke night will see burly blokes and hair-covered crooners take to the Laird’s stage and belt out some tunes.

“We’re doing Bearaoke as part of Hibearnation this year, which we’ve done a couple of times stand-alone, but last year we found people came down and asked if Bearaoke was happening, so we responded to demand and have included it during the week,” Mitchell said.

Raising more money for causes, which have previously included the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard Victoria, Positive Living Centre and ALSO Fabulous Shop, is also high on the agenda for VicBears in 2011.

“We were very happy last year. We donated close to $9000 to charity which is really how we gauge our success. It’s our goal and we’re aiming to beat that this year.”

info: Southern Hibearnation takes place from June 12 – 19. There’s early bird pricing on events until April 30.

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