Guyra Lamb and Potato Festival bigger than last year, president Steve Mepham says

A SUCCESS: Festival president Steve Mepham. Picture: Nicholas Fuller
A SUCCESS: Festival president Steve Mepham. Picture: Nicholas Fuller

Despite the rain - or perhaps because of it - this year's Lamb and Potato Festival was highly successful, president Steve Mepham said.

"All of our stall holders reported better than last year's takings. In our food gazebo, which is our benchmark, we believe we're up about 15 per cent."

The gazebo sold about $85,000 worth of food; last year, the gazebo turned over about $75,000. All 35 community groups that work to make the festival happen share in the profit; last year, that was about $35,000 after cost.

Mr Mepham believes the wet weather played an important part in the Festival's success.

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"I think the rain brought with it some optimism and some hope into the drought," he said. "People just really wanted to let go and splurge a little bit after having to hold the purse strings pretty tight for the last 12 or 18 months. It was just a general sense of relief when the rains came."

One festival highlight, Mr Mepham said, was the Drought Relief Concert in Bradley Street on the first Saturday, January 18. Pipe bands and belly dancers, solo singers and rock groups entertained the community, and brought Festival visitors to local cafes.

Armidale Regional Council sponsored the event, and mayor Simon Murray even took part in a rain dance.

"It was a very drippy day, and the concert actually ended in rain, but we still had some really top acts down in the main street, and a steady crowd to enjoy that," Mr Mepham said.

Performers at the Drought Concert. Picture supplied by Armidale Regional Council.

Performers at the Drought Concert. Picture supplied by Armidale Regional Council.

Another highlight was the Automobile Show & Shine on Saturday, January 25. 189 classic and vintage cars, utes and hot rods angle-parked in Bradley Street.

"That's a massive amount of vehicles for a small community such as ours to attract people to a car show like that!" Mr Mepham said. "We had entrants from Newcastle, from Queensland. People come from pretty big distances to participate."

Mr Mepham believes about 30,000 people visited the Festival over the 12 days it ran. "It's very hard for us to put a figure on that because people just drive down the road, pull up, run in, have a look around, get in their cars, and go again."

Steve Mepham at the Big Lamb on Australia Day.

Steve Mepham at the Big Lamb on Australia Day.

Visitors come from all across eastern Australia, from north Queensland to Victoria. "No doubt they're travelling through to other things," Mr Mepham said. "But yeah, we're pretty much known right across the eastern seaboard these days as a place to get to on your way to wherever."

Mr Mepham did not have figures for how many lamb and potato products were sold off the top of his head. He expected to know after the final committee meeting.

Mr Mepham thanked the whole community for getting behind the Festival and making it a great event. Particularly the community groups. "Without them and the stall holders, we probably wouldn't have a Festival."