Daylesford’s ChillOut Festival was bathed in glorious sunshine at the start of the Labour Day long weekend, and then the heavens opened.

It’s a familiar tale for the rural GLBT festival — the event weathered heavy storms last year — however, organisers have hailed this year’s event a success, with key events selling out.ChillOut media spokesman Paul Kidd told the Star Observer that although Sunday’s Carnival Day was hit with heavy rain, overall the 2011 festival has been one of the best yet.

“On the whole we had a really successful weekend. The feedback we’ve been getting has been overwhelmingly positive … and the numbers were pretty good across the board,” Kidd said.

Before rain fell, Kidd said the Carnival Day event peaked at around 4000 – 5000 people, much stronger than last year’s effort.

“Obviously we’d rather not have [rain], but we had a lot of people there before the rain, so that was good for us in terms of ticket sales,” Kidd said.

Wet weather couldn’t dissuade a dedicated crowd who endured the downpour to watch New Zealand pop act Kimbra and the Blow Waves rip up the stage.

“The dancing in the moshpit in front of the stage was typically muddy and hilarious and people were having a fantastic time,” Kidd said.

The annual ChillOut Street Parade in Vincent St was more fortunate with the weather, attracting one of the biggest crowds yet. An estimated 1500 people watched 27 entries march twice around the town’s main drag.

Both the Bush Dance and Dance Party were sold out, each event attracting 500 to the Daylesford Town Hall.

While there were some complaints about some of the music at the Dance Party, the Bush Dance seemed to be enjoyed by all.“The Bush Dance in particular went off in a big way,” Kidd said. “You could tell people were having the time of their life.

“Some people thought the second [Dance Party] DJ was not to some people’s tastes, but certainly the first half the party was packed.”

ChillOut is on track to have raised more than $30,000 for the Alannah and Madeline Foundation through the Sault Slowest Lunch and other fundraisers during the four-day event. Several thousand dollars were also raised for the local State Emergency Service to buy new equipment.

Kidd said the festival will seek feedback from festival-goers on the ChillOut website in coming weeks.

“A lot of the things we changed this year were directly in response to feedback we had last year, so we’ll be doing another online survey to give people an opportunity for feedback which will help go into the planning of next year’s festival,” he said.

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