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Soulful . . . Julie Barclay performs at the 2016 Harbour St Jazz and Blues Festival. PHOTO: CAROL EDWARDS

The time was right to step down from the Harbour Street Jazz & Blues Festival, long-time co-ordinator Julie Barclay says.

But that didn’t make the decision easy, and the vibrant singer admits she “went through a grieving period”.

Mrs Barclay’s involvement with the hugely successful event that attracts top musicians and throngs of visitors each Otago anniversary weekend dates back to its inception seven years ago.

Her husband, Garth Green, was working with Faye Ormandy, the former Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust heritage co-ordinator, who was approached about staging a music festival in the Victorian precinct.

Mrs Ormandy knew Mrs Barclay had begun singing and asked Mr Green if she would be interested in helping out.

Before she knew it, Mrs Barclay was “in totally over my head”.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” she said.

“I was winging it for the first couple of years.”

She credits local music and events stalwarts Alan and Maxine Rakiraki, Graeme Clark, Dave Snow, and Sally-Ann Donnelly for providing the support needed to make it happen.

Then “it just grew”.

Mrs Barclay attributes the festival’s success to the reasons why it came into being – it was for the musicians and the public.

“We just wanted to have the whole community involved as much as we could.

“And we wanted to get the young ones in.”

Now, musicians were approaching the organising committee year-round, asking to be included in the next line-up.

“It’s a really, really good festival,” Mrs Barclay said.

“I handed it over at the right time. It’s not that I didn’t want to do it, but it needed fresh people and new ideas.”

Mrs Barclay began to hand over her duties in December and had largely stepped back by January, but was still available to help her replacement, Paula Gray.

“It’s gone very well .. Paula’s just amazing.”

Mrs Barclay will continue to serve on the organising committee “as more of a consultant” and intends to keep singing – an artform she describes as “pretty wonderful”.

Meanwhile, she and her husband are running The Little Farm Homestay at their property on the outskirts of Oamaru. They love hosting visitors from all over the world.