Ironfest, encompassing the weekend of April 22-24, grew by 1000 people. The theme for next year’s Ironfest has also been announced.
“Saturday felt very full,” said Ironfest production manager Boris Hunt.
Ticket sales increased from 17,000 in 2016 to 18,000 this year.
“I heard a lot of people saying it was the ‘best Ironfest ever’, and I think they were being genuine.”
Mr Hunt said the Ironfest team had scoped out other showgrounds in case numbers keep increasing over the years.
“We might very well reach capacity. But we’ve look around and the Lithgow Showground is the best. It’s big and very picturesque. As you can see in the photos, the backdrops are always great.”
Mr Hunt said they have already released the theme for next year’s Ironfest because festival-goers were requesting more time to work on their costumes.
“That’s the big change that we have seen at the festival over the years and where it’s growing. We used to pay people to get dressed up and wander around, now they pay us and provide entertainment. We never saw that happening at the beginning, it’s overwhelming for us!”
“Certainly this year we saw more people dressing up and the costuming is getting better and better. You’re a dag now if you come in tracky dacks.”
Author and model Tara Moss, who wowed the crowds with multiple costume changes over the weekend, said that the community of Ironfest keeps her coming back each year.
“I love that Ironfest gives people the freedom to be whoever they want. It’s a weekend where people can feel free to be more creative, share tips and encourage each other to put more effort in, rather than being worried they looked like they tried,” she said.
Bettina Hamilton and three of her friends flew in from Adelaide to attend the weekend-long festival and ball, with several costumes to match.
“There is only so much you can fit in a suitcase!” she said.
“Last year I was in Sydney and went to Gallery Serpentine to pick up some things for a steampunk party. They said that if I liked this kind of stuff, I have to go to Ironfest. So we have come over for the full weekend.”
For Caleb Lawson, Amy Penfold and Damon Guerrera of The Order, a medieval re-enactment group based in Western Sydney, Ironfest is the reward for their year-long effort to create historically accurate medieval clothing, accessories, armor and camps.
“Yeah, I’m pretty much the queen,” Ms Penfold laughed.
“We love coming to Ironfest and camping out for three days. In the lead up to it we basically see each other every day just getting ready.”
Members of The Order took to the Showground to battle with axes, swords and spears, testing out the effectiveness of their homemade armor.
“Yeah, there is an understanding you don’t hit as hard you can. But you still come away with bruises,” Mr Guerrera said.
Mr Hunt said the theme for Ironfest 2018 will be ‘Wild West’.
“We’ll be focussing a lot on bush rangers, outlaws, bullion robberies, that early Australian historical stuff. I don’t expect a lot of gun-slinging John Wayne types because people know they can take it further than that,” he said.
Mr Hunt said they tried to influence more of an artistic feel this year, with professional performers creating monolithic ‘Day of the Dead’ outfits inspired by Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
“Making it a bit more arty was the feature this year, that’s why we had the Guild Hall featuring lost trades like potters, spinners and barbers. As well as artists painting plein air out in the field.”
“You can’t make too many changes to Ironfest, it has to be evolution rather than revolution.”