Transforming Bicentennial Park

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BICENTENNIAL Park, the city’s premier recreational space, will play host to its biggest ever program of events for this year’s country music festival.

It is being transformed this week and has also been renamed to Toyota Park for its major commercial sponsor for the length of the festival.

A Queanbeyan-based production company moved into the park on Monday to start the expected four-day set-up for park performances and events during the festival.

And, like last year, the stage will be set up with its back to the wisteria walk and secondary park pond – with the audience looking towards No. 1 Oval, rather than Kable Ave.

According to Eclipse production manager Chris Neal, about 50 tonnes of equipment has been trucked in on semis, two rigid trucks and an eight-tonne outside-

broadcast van, which will serve as backstage and the stage control centre. A crew of 35 is putting everything into place for what is also the biggest ever stage infrastructure set up in the park for the festival.

About 20 of them came in earlier in the week, with the initial set-up staff including riggers and structural crew. 

“We install the stage infrastructure, the big screens and the cameras and do the audio and lighting,” Mr Neal said. “It’s a bigger and flashier stage, much bigger than ever before, and its footprint is big.”

This year two LED screens measuring about 30 square metres are integrated into the stage and will provide better viewing for the audience than ever before.

Another big screen will be set up on the corner of Peel and Fitzroy streets, next to FanZone, and will broadcast a lot of what’s going on in the park this year to those in the street.

“That’s quite exciting, because it will feed from the park to Peel St, so people will be able to see what’s happening in the park,” Mr Neal said.

The lighting is also bigger this year and Mr Neal says it will be more impressive. “We’ve got double the amount of lighting than for any other festival and the stage is much bigger too. It’s 15 metres by 12m, which is a very large stage, and there’s a backstage area for the entertainers to get ready before they go on.”

After last year’s trial run – where the temporary stage was moved from the fixed and original Norm McKellar Stage site, which looks up towards the levee and the Peel River – the 2014 festival stage faces back towards the north-east, so performers are not looking into the setting sun.

“Moving it to the other side of the park last year worked well. They trialled it last year and we provided that set-up. It’s much bigger and much more impressive,” Mr Neal said.

So, while they were ahead of schedule on Tuesday, Neal was expecting them to finish before lunchtime today. About 13 operational and stage crew will move in after the structural work is done; they’re the technical ones who will provide for audio, screens, lighting, cameras and stage operations.

The park hosts the opening concert and launch tomorrow night and will have open-air concerts, movies, a family zone, a country 4X4 drive track, a pop-up bar and assorted other musical items.

It will be the setting for the special tribute concert for Slim Dusty next Wednesday and will host the Star Maker grand final next Friday night and the fireworks display and Australia Day celebrations that will wrap up the festival on Sunday week.

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