The Huon Folk Inc Committee and Managment for the 2018/19 financial year are:


Anne Foale - President

Anne Foale has been very proud supporter and lover of the CFF for many years. She has volunteered at the festival for the past 7 years and attended several festivals prior to that. Anne grew up in Cygnet and although she now lives in Hobart, she still presumes to call herself a local,having travelled to Cygnet 5 or 6 days every week during her role as the Principal of St James Catholic College. The facilities of SJCC are used extensively by the Festival and in her term as Principal, Anne has positively and actively encouraged the growing partnership between the Festival and the College. Anne is a passionate Educator having been involved in teaching all her life and she enjoys seeing the school in which she works being closely integrated with community events and traditions. Anne is married to Rob and has a son and a daughter, a son-in-law and two gorgeous granddaughters. Anne lives in Hobart.

Vallorie Hodges - Vice President

Vallorie Hodges relocated from the west coast of the US to Tasmania in early 2014 to take up a position with the University of Tasmania at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies as the Site Diving Officer.  Her career in Scientific Diving has been extensive, from early research activities in Southeast Queensland, to opening the Alaska SeaLife Center, to creating a prodigious volunteer and scientific diving program on the Oregon Coast.

She served on the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (the national standards-setting body in the US) for three terms and the Association of Dive Program Administrators for several years.  She was inducted into the Women Divers' Hall of Fame in 2005, and has received numerous accolades and awards recognising her contribution to the scientific diving community.  Her busy diving career has been grounded and balanced by her passion for music, her avocation as a musician, and assisting her partner in their recording studio.

Her career as a musician began in 2003 when she joined her partner Gary in his band, first as a vocalist and later playing electric bass, and occasionally percussion. Together they have performed up and down the west coast of the US and now in Tasmania, at festivals, weddings, concerts and special events, and produced numerous recordings and albums for acts that range from aspiring young talents to world class performers. Vallorie’s passion for music, organisational skills and experience working with industry boards and committees will be put to work as this year’s President of the Huon Folk Inc Committee. Vallorie lives in the Huon Valley.

Michael Thomsen - Treasurer

Michael is a qualified medical herbalist working primarily in research and cancer support. He has written a number of scientific publications and contributed to several books and journals in this field.

Michael has for many years also built websites especially for musicians and artists and creates the visuals integral to the performances of Australian folk group Silkweed’s multi-media shows.

Michael is a long-term and regular supporter of folk and community music events. Michael lives in Hobart.

Chris Ellis - Committee member and Database Manager

Chris Ellis is a Tasmanian-born and raised descendent of a good number of Van Diemen’s Land convicts and Cornish gold miners. He worked as a biochemical scientist at the Royal Hobart Hospital in the 70s before his itchy feet led him to Melbourne and Victoria, where he raised his family and taught in primary and secondary schools for nearly three decades.

For more than twenty years, Chris has been immersed in the Victorian folk music scene, as a punter and as a performer. He has performed as a soloist and in various band line-ups playing traditional Celtic tunes, blues, bluegrass, country, and the odd popular standard in pubs, bars and festivals throughout Victoria and Tasmania. Chris had a long association with the Port Fairy Folk Festival as a volunteer, performer, and stage manager.

Recently tired from teaching, the call of the old home place was too hard to resist, and so Chris has returned to live in Cygnet permanently. He is presently working with the Integrity Commission of Tasmania. When he eventually retires, he aspires to finish writing the family history and to sit on the veranda playing the banjo or whittling.

Jason Garard

Originally from Kosciuszko National Park Jason has lived in Garden Island Creek for the past 15 years.

Along with a passion for song writing and poetry, Jason has been the owner of Tasmanian Solar Connections since 2012 and is currently in the process of establishing a wildlife rescue and education park on his property.

Many years spent in Arnhem Land working with the Yolngu to establish culturally suitable business ideas has honed his skills in creating successful outcomes from humble beginnings.

Operating within a secure budget to bring together community, volunteer and local business sponsorship for events and festivals is a passion for Jason and a desire to see the Cygnet Folk Festival continue to grow local support, involvement and exposure is his hope and desire.

Megan Helmer - Committee member and Secretary

Megan started her working life in Sydney in medical research, later moving into computer systems management and then data management and project management of clinical trials in the pharmaceutical industry. Her love of food inspired a few diversions along the way, including running her own café and managing a sensory kitchen for a large supermarket chain.  

Music has always been important to Megan and she enjoyed attending concerts and operas while living in Sydney. Megan escaped the chaos of Sydney and moved to the peaceful Huon Valley in 2013 where she enjoys the company of her alpacas, chickens and greyhounds whilst keeping her elderly parents out of trouble.  

She is a member of Nourish Women’s choir in and a lapsed piano player and hopes one day to take up playing again. Volunteering at the folk festivals and enjoying the music and atmosphere they created prompted Megan to join the committee and offer her support to them and the community.

Sally Port - Committee member and Community Liaison

Sally and her husband moved to Cygnet from Hobart some years ago and they love living in this beautiful environment and community. Sally was a Steiner kindergarten teacher at Tarremah and now works as a civil celebrant.

Sally has been an enthusiastic member of Nourish Womens Choir since it’s inception nearly 11 years ago. She is also involved in a number of community initiatives including being the convenor of the Cygnet Garden Market and a member of a refugee support group. She really enjoys participating and volunteering in community activities. She loves the festival and sees it as a wonderful cultural community event and has even had the opportunity to perform at the festival. She is a dedicated member of the committee on which she has sat for 7 years.

Michael Bentley - Committee member

Michael chose to move from Adelaide to Hobart in 2011. Tasmania, for him, offers the best scale for living and working well. Michael has two border collies and is often out walking in the city and on the mountain.

Michael is a long-time lover of folk music in its broadest sense. In Adelaide he supported small folk venues as well as going to the large festivals such as WOMADelaide. In Hobart, he seeks out good music whenever he can.

Michael’s work is in public health and health services research, where he has developed skills in project management. His research interests are in social complexity of and ecological approaches to health, equity and the environment. Michael may not have the answers but he asks the right questions.

Raymon Mainsbridge - Committee member and Public Officer

Ray began his professional career as a teacher of English and History in high schools in regional New South Wales. He later switched to the law and worked for thirty two years in a large national law firm, mostly in Sydney but also in Perth, specialising in commercial litigation. In more recent years, as leader of his firm's pro bono and corporate responsibility programme, he has advised many not for profit and community organisations on a range of issues, from incorporation and governance to employee disputes.

Ray has no musical ability of any kind (although he does have a son who is a professional singer and actor based in New York). Notwithstanding this, he loves listening to music of most kinds and going to live performances. He has been a regular and enthusiastic attendee of the Folk Festival over the past five years, ever since he and his wife Anne bought a property just out of Cygnet and started the slow process of moving there from Sydney.

Michael Russell - Committee member

Michael and his wife moved from the Blue Mountains to the valley in December 2016. They have bought a small acreage on which they are growing vegetables alongside a couple of horses and three sheep.

They are loving the Huon Valley and can’t understand why they didn’t make the move years ago!

Michael comes with a background in managing community events. He believes passionately in community events and the important role they play.  He has joined the Cygnet Folk Festival committee because he wants to use his experience and contribute to his new community and because he loves music!


Bridget Binnie - Festival Coordinator

Bridget lives in Franklin and has worked in the arts for 15 years as a professional performing artist, arts administrator, festival and event producer, artistic director and publicist.

She is an established independent performing artist working mainly in the areas of contemporary dance, physical theatre and circus.

Bridget has worked in arts administration and management for; SPACE at the Salamanca Arts Centre, Second Echo Ensemble, The MOVES Festival, Festival of Voices, Taste of Tasmania, Adelaide Fringe Festival, Marshmelody Festival, Jackeys Marsh Forest Festival and the International Tasmania Circus Festival.

She regularly works freelance at festivals across Tasmania in the areas of stage and venue management, artist liaison, operations, logistics, event coordinator and site crew.

Bridget is passionate about making community events and has a strong love of music.

Erin Collins - Artistic Director

Erin is a musician and writer whose work has been showcased at performances and festivals as diverse as the National, Cygnet, Tamar Valley, Maldon and Majors Creek Folk Festivals, Ten Days on the Island, Junction Arts Festival, Queenstown Heritage and Arts Festival, the Wooden Boat Festival and From France to Freycinet, in addition to Regional arts and other touring. She has been involved with the Cygnet Folk Festival, predominantly as a performer since the mid 1990s.

Over the past two decades Erin has qualified in courses, masterclasses and seminars in event management and festivals and combines her experience of performance with management of festivals and events.

Erin has worked as perfromer, producer, company manager and musical director for shows during Ten Days on the Island, presented for festivals as Band Manager for Australian Folk group Silkweed, presented for “Mostly Folk” on Hobart FM community radio and is the Tasmanian producer of the Woodford Folk Festival initiative, Festival of Small Halls in partnership with the Cygnet Folk Festival.
Erin has steered the artistic vision as Artistic Director for the Cygnet Folk Festival since 2011.  Erin lives in Hobart.

Erin can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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