PROFILE: PAUL KIDD
Paul Kidd first attended ChillOut as a visitor from New South Wales. He recalls travelling to his first ChillOut Festival with his partner in 2003. Growing up in Sydney, Paul had lots of experience with Mardi Gras and was even a member of the Mardi Gras party committee for a few years. He comments that it has been easy for people who have attended both festivals to compare ChillOut unfavourably with Mardi Gras. The ChillOut parade is so much smaller and Carnival Day is much more ‘country’ and laid back than Mardi Gras Fair Day. But in Paul’s estimation:
Those are the real strengths of ChillOut too, when you think about the fact that it is so laid back. Those years when the Carnival is just perfect, when the weather is right ... you just kind of sprawl on the grass and get drunk and chat up boys all day long, it's just such an incredibly beautiful way to spend a day ... That I think is my memory of my first ChillOut, it was exactly like that, and I came with no real knowledge or expectation. I had such a beautiful time.
In 2006, Paul and his partner began investigating places to relocate in rural Victoria. ‘I wouldn’t say that it was one of the things that tempted us down’, he comments, but ‘we decided we wanted to move to the country and we came out to this area, partly because ... of ChillOut’. It wasn’t long after they moved into the area that Paul found himself on the ChillOut committee. Reflecting on his experiences, Paul comments on the problems ChillOut has had in attracting committee members.
ChillOut’s always had trouble getting people to join the committee. Because even though Daylesford’s a very queer-friendly town ... there isn’t a huge population of resident queer people. At the time that I joined, Adam Wright was the president, and he was living in Bendigo, and previous to him Doug Pollard had been president and he was living in Melbourne. So it’s always been a challenge for ChillOut to get people who live in the area and can commit a bit more time, who aren’t kind of commuting backwards and forwards.
When the opportunity presented itself for Paul to join the committee, the existing committee members were eager to have him. A fan of the festival, Paul recalls that he too, was enthusiastic to ‘get involved’.
Paul was on the ChillOut committee for two years. ‘Both years that I was on the committee, the committee was very small.’
I initially quit in the first year. I said, ‘Look I'm going to see it out but it's just too much’. The time commitment was a lot, there was a lot of shit-kicking work, there was a lot of kind of moving of heavy boxes around, and doing manual stuff, and making up for volunteers who didn't turn up, it was just really hard work.
Being on the committee meant not only a lot of hard work, but it changed the way the organisers were able to engage with the festival. ‘It does take away from your enjoyment especially on Carnival Day,’ reflects Paul. However, despite his initial thoughts about spending only one year on the committee, the sense of accomplishment he got after his first festival behind the scenes changed Paul’s mind:
It was such an incredible sense of camaraderie and common purpose; we didn't know if we were going to be able to pull it off, we committed to doing it. I guess in the end I remember ... the day after ChillOut and everyone was just on a high because we had delivered it, because we'd got away with it, and we had made a success of it. I decided then I'd give it one more year.
All quotes taken from an interview with Paul Kidd, 18 December 2017.