THE region served up a smorgasbord of activities over the long weekend, smashing crowd records as they went.
There was something to appeal to everyone’s tastes: shearing competitions and dog speed trials at The DAG Sheep Station; old wares and appraisals at Manilla’s Antiques Fair; birdwatching at Bingara’s inaugural Wings ‘n’ Things Birds and Bush Festival; draught horses, vintage cars and trucks at Dungowan; and, in Tamworth, locals donned lederhosens and raised their steins to the sky in honour of the region’s first Oktoberfest.
Dungowan’s third annual fair and machinery day on Sunday saw more than 500 holiday revellers file through the gates of the village’s recreation grounds.
Organiser Tony McClelland was flabbergasted by the response, with wet weather dampening proceedings the first two years.
“I’m over the moon, absolutely over the moon,” he said.
The day “was a big deal”, Mr McClelland said, with people coming as far afield as Rowena to take part.
Down the road at Nundle, about 14 shearers sweated it out for a cash bounty at the inaugural shearers’ festival in the historic Wombramurra Woolshed. The event drew an estimated 800 people over the two-day event, organiser and owner of The DAG Sheep Station John Krsulja said.
He said the festival, which was developed in part to attract fresh blood to the trade, also exceeded his expectations.
“I’ve had people say, ‘look, you won’t make any money the first time round, you might break even if you’re lucky’, but I think we’ve done better than break even,” he said.
Destination Tamworth tourism spokeswoman Erin Chillingworth said the emergence of new festivals such as Oktoberfest, The DAG shearing festival and Wings ‘n’ Things bush festival gave locals a reason to stay in town and those passing through a reason to stop.
“Definitely having new events helped to keep people in town or gave people who are staying in Tamworth something to do,” she said.
“The weather this year has helped as well, even though dam levels have been quite low.”