A hot weekend brought scorching success, as Daylesford ChillOut 2008 came back with a vengeance to set a new record as the biggest and best country gay and lesbian festival in Australia. After a year off, ChillOut roared back this year with the most successful festival ever with more events, more visitors and more money raised for charity than ever before. Just a few examples:

Biggest event ever at the Palais

The inaugural Bush Dance at the Palais, Hepburn Springs, Saturday night, with the Dinki Di Dance Band, was the most successful event ever held at the venue, according to Palais management, with takings and numbers exceeding even traditional favourites like New Year’s Eve.

Street parade

The biggest yet, led by the traditional roar of the Dykes on Bikes, followed by a fleet of shiny convertibles from major sponsor Mercedes-Benz of Melbourne, loaded with drag queens and cowboys. Rainbow Cloggers clogged and the Rainbow Band played to the biggest crowd Vincent St has seen in years.

Carnival Day at Victoria Park

More than 5,000 visitors spent Carnival Day with us at Victoria Park, comfortably exceeding the previous record of 3,500.

The $12,000 lunch

The opening event, the Slowest Lunch at Sault Restaurant, Sailors Falls, with ChillOut Special Guest Adam Sutton, raised over $12,000 for the Alannah & Madeleine Foundation -“ twice the expected amount. Celebrity auctioneer the fabulous Dolly Diamond even sold the guest of honour after dessert -“ dinner with Adam Sutton went for an astonishing $1,000 to a US visitor who was on his first trip to Australia, especially to experience ChillOut.

Charity target exceeded

We set ourselves the goal of raising $22,000 for our Communities Caring For Children Appeal, to fund the establishment of the Alannah & Madeleine Foundations Better Buddies anti-bullying program in every primary school in the shire. The final tally isn’t in yet, but we already know we have comfortably exceeded our target.

Special mentions must go to Adam Sutton, who waived all fees and expenses, donating the money to the appeal instead. And also to Mercedes-Benz of Melbourne, who delighted everyone on Carnival Day with a surprise donation of $2,500, in addition to their already generous sponsorship of the festival. David McCarthy of Mercedes-Benz said Mercedes is proud to support the premier gay and lesbian event in rural and regional Australia.

The ChillOut Management Committee wishes to thank all our sponsors and supporters for making this possible. Very special thanks go to all the wonderful volunteers who, as Dolly Diamond said, made this the most smoothly run festival she’d ever experienced. And the biggest thanks to our visitors -“ we’re glad you enjoyed yourselves and look forward to delighting you again in 2009.

More information & images: ChillOut Secretary Doug Pollard, 0408 122 831.

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