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Two quirky headline acts will rock out to record crowds at the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival when it lights up Southern Tasmania, starting tonight.

Ticket sales are up 20 per cent on last year, with organisers expecting 18,000 people for the three-day program of pagan-inspired celebration at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed.

So popular and well regarded has the event become, it has attracted nationally-acclaimed independent artists VulgarGrad and 8 Foot Felix to the event for the first time to get the crowds grooving.

The Huon Valley will certainly come to life when VulgarGrad takes to the stage – the band pumped to be back in Tassie following a successful stint at Dark MOFO last year.

“You can expect a lot of dancing, drinking, yelling and you’ll end up learning a surprising amount of Russian swearing by the end of the night,’’ explains the band’s contrabass balalaika player Andrew Tanner.

“Our singer, Jacek Koman, is a well-enough known actor in Australia, but he’s actually a household name in his home country of Poland, and how often can Tasmanians say they just went to a gig by a Russian criminal band fronted by a famous Polish actor? About as often as VulgarGrad come to town, I guess,” says Andrew.

“It’s a lot like you’ve stepped into a dive bar in 1960s Odessa and a Soviet Tom Waits is hammering out old Russian songs about stealing and knife fights. His backing band seems to be drunk, and you’re not quite sure how you ended up here and whether it’s safe to stay.”

Meanwhile Brendan Jones is going to thrill crowds with his flaming trumpet as both Blunderbuss Jones in his solo act and also with band 8Foot Felix – a rambunctious, theatrical and fun act for all ages.

“We’re like a Danny Elfman soundtrack to their own spaced-out time-traveling steampunk movie. A multi-genre enigma, made for dancing, with strong roots in Balkan “oompa oompa” music and a splash of hip-hop and blues,” Brendan explains.

“I’ve never been to the festival and neither has the band, so we are all really looking forward to it. Mostly because we’ve heard such great things and we’ll finally meet the fabulous community involved, and also to feel the delicious warmth of all that cider and fire!”

Brendan’s flaming trumpet will be a hit with kids and adults alike, but he advises patrons not to try emulating his skill set.

“I made it myself so it’s one of a kind – although I’m a trained professional so don’t try this at home folks!”

Because of the expected large crowds at the festival, organisers are reminding patrons to follow instructions in regard to parking.

There is no parking allowed on the Highway, with parking facilitated in a large paddock behind the Apple Shed.

There are a number of bus services organised, with a return service to the festival from Hobart via Kingston costing $15 p/person. There is also a free shuttle service rom Ranelagh and Huonville.
The Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival kicks off on Friday at 5pm with the Official Welcome Ceremony and Burning Man from 7.30-8.30pm.

A full program of festivities is available at www.huonvalleymidwinterfest.com.au/program/
Elyse Barnett Marketing Manager, Willie Smith’s