Daylesford local and the new festival director of Chillout Festival, Emma Ireland, has one of the most interesting resumes you will probably read. 

“I have a background in dance, trapeze, drama and performance,” Ireland told Star Observer. “I even did some podium dancing at Chasers Bar (aka Poof Doof on a Saturday night) which is pretty funny”. Ireland has also starred on the TV show Neighbours and was a psychiatric nurse for a while.

However, despite exploring a variety of careers, her main passion remains event management. The former actress/podium dancer/psychiatric nurse has over 25 years of event management experience and has organised some huge events such as The Big Day Out, The Byron Blues Festival, Meredith music festival and Golden Plains.

“When I look back at the big events I’ve done, I think I was that person who wasn’t afraid to sort things out. Most of my family are midwives and they deliver babies and they don’t find that stressful but I find being in charge of events not stressful.”

‘Madonna Did Walk Past Me’

A personal highlight from Emma’s career was working the control room for Madonna’s concert at the MCG for the Girlie Tour. “She (Madonna) did walk past me when I was working on her show. She is such a boss.” 

The established event organiser will now be bringing all that experience to ChillOut festival as the Festival Director for the 25th anniversary.

“We are extraordinarily lucky to acquire Emma’s talents and skills for our 25th year celebrations,” Tessa  Halliday the President of the ChillOut Committee said in a statement. “She is a unique talent having both amazing creative  abilities but also the skills to turn those ideas into events for everyone. We are so excited to be working with  her.”

Ireland is no stranger to the ChillOut Festival or to the team behind Australia’s longest-running and largest regional Pride festival.

“For ChillOut Festival there is already so much bubbling behind the scenes. I have a great committee who are working really hard to put on the best festival possible.”

Connection To Chillout

Ireland first moved to the Hepburn Shire area over 12 years ago where she lives with her 14 year old son and 8 year old daughter.

“Even though I always thought I was a city person I came here to see if I could start a life and make a country place home,” she said.

I think with this community it is a very connected place and you feel included and accepted. People look out for people here and that is what I love about Daylesford.”

Since moving, Ireland has organised heaps of events in the area and has volunteered multiple times for committees for ChillOut Festival.

“I have attended the festival for many years and taken my children and they love it. I just love celebrating queer country pride with everybody. Before Covid in 2020, luckily I programmed that festival for the festival director and got to run Carnival, my favourite part of ChillOut”

Planning A Festival During COVID

Unfortunately, due to COVID, Ireland’s favourite event had to be cancelled for this year’s ChillOut, but she is hoping to bring it back next year for the 25th anniversary.

“I want to bring back the Carnival. I want to bring back the street party. I want to have access to places around the town, I want to have a bit more country entertainment on display. I want families to come out and I just want to celebrate the last 25 years,” said Ireland. 

And, she is readying herself with backup plans as well.  “When I book events for next year…you just have to book with a back-up plan in mind and also a plan C. We will be looking at live streaming as a back-up plan for everything we do because I just don’t want to see the artists not get their work.”

Despite the uncertainty around planning ChillOut Festival, Ireland is still excited about the role and is optimistic that people will be able to celebrate together.

“It is important to look at where we have been with lockdown and isolation. I’m really excited to bring people out of isolation and I have been working really hard to create as many opportunities for socialisation at ChillOut,” added Ireland. 


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