|Radio host Scotty McDonald and Joy Argow. Photography: James Smith|
Situated behind the Vision Radio arena, where artist interviews are held to the delight of fans, the small but productive Easterfest media tent is a whirr of working-bee-like activity.
This is where the talent comes to be taken to meet the media, where media comes to receive their official lanyards and information packs, and where the festival's own on-site roving journalists come in to file copy on everything from multicultural cuisine ("A Feast for the Senses") to P.O.D. ("First Impressions Aren't Everything").
An ever-presence at these headquarters is Joy Argow (aka "Joyful"), the go-to-girl with the smile and quirky hats and upbeat personality who is known by just about everyone and then some (she clocks 1,936 Facebook friends) and is responsible this year for coordinating Easterfest marketing.
When we touch base, a near-on impossibility as frequent interruptions are the order of the day, she's uploading articles to Facebook, the remains of a no doubt hastily procured pie and salad by her computer's side.
"Our journalists have been writing stories about the festival, finding them around the place, and I'm uploading them so we get more people reading their good content," she says of the set-up, which is not unlike the AFL's media hub, but on a much smaller scale (as a side note, this year saw the debut of Easterfest TV, a 16-hour-a-day-streaming of online footage).
"The content is available to the media who are at the Festival and to the people who weren't here also. All the stories are by volunteers. Some come here to do their internship."
On that note, she thoroughly approves of seeking out unpaid work with events organisations for those seeking to carve out a career in the music business. "Definitely start that volunteer work with an organisation/band/festival that you are passionate about and can promote," she says. "It's very hard to 'sell' something you don't believe in!"
Argow, 33, grew up on a farm in Ipswich and worked on a racehorse spelling farm as a strapper during high school. A quintessential people person who says she "definitely wasn't the cool kid", Easterfest would be the new natural habitat for Argow if it wasn't for her distinct disinterest in music (no offense to the artists, many of whom she calls good friends).
"I know it's ironic," she says, but she simply doesn't listen to it much. When would she have time?
But, as it turns out, she and music are inexorably intertwined. After completing a four-year teaching degree majoring in woodwork and metal work at Griffith University, during which time she organised concerts for students, Argow was recruited by Gold Coast band Alabaster Box in 2003.
"It's a long story, but one particular night had an incredible turnout, and everything just seemed to work. I ended up going part-time with Alabaster Box, organising 20 or 30 per cent of their tours that year, while paying off my study debts and my car and bought a laptop, and then I went into full-time ministry with the band. I went to America with two suitcases and came home with two suitcases."
She left behind many close friends in Nashville, Tennessee, and still keeps in touch with the band. "Regardless of what empitomises success for a band, we saw God do amazing things," she says. "Some of the friends I made in Nashville I'll keep forever. I'm trying to convince my friends there to get married at the same time so I can save money on flights."
In the lead up to Easterfest, Argow's role involves travelling the country connecting with churches and other groups to encourage them to get groups together to attend. Though daily on-the-door ticket sales go some way to helping Easterfest make budget, securing groups for the camping grounds ensures that they can book headline talent in advance and not risk making a loss.
"Pre-festival my role involves connecting with people who bring groups to the festival, and while at the festival I try to connect with them here – the changes we've made to the festival over the years, like the speaker venue we have this year, are a result of the feedback we get from them."
In recent times music festival producers have struggled to keep afloat, given the plethora of options now available to youth (from Big Day Out to Supafest) meaning competition is tough for ticketing dollars. But Easterfest, now 13 years running, sells itself on its close community and sense of Christian comradeship as much as the bands.
"Easterfest is like a big gathering of all the people I know," says Argow. "I didn't really know what I wanted to do when I grew up, but I always wanted to know lots of people. I know a few people."
As for her post-festival status, she's tired but still ebullient. For the first time in years, she has a base to call home and her own bed.
"I feel fairly settled for the first time in years, having moved to Toowoomba last year," she says. "It's been good, not living out of a suitcase for six months of the year, but I'm still trying to establish community here and make new friends in Toowoomba."
I don't think she'll have a problem.
Girl With a Satchel