PEEL St was awash with a cacophony drumming, music, sizzling hot-plates on Saturday evening, all in the name of some local harmony.
Fiesta La Peel, in its fourth year, had thousands of hungry punters loosening the purse-strings and their belts, gorging on traditional meals from more than 40 different nations prepared by migrants now calling Tamworth home.
The street food festival is Tamworth Regional Council’s biggest single day event on its lofty CV of annual festivals, but the meaning is bigger still.
Multicultural Tamworth patriarch, Eddie Whitham, said months of organisation go into making Fiesta a reality.
While the festival is an opportunity to give the town a taste of different cultures living in Tamworth, Mr Whitham said it was important to support multicultural communities in their own events.
“You have the refugees now moving in from Burma and they’re about to give away their food,” he said.
“You have a family from Brazil who just arrived a few weeks ago, started work but are giving away food in the street.
“These are people who live and work in our town, but they are being and doing something, they’re actually becoming a part of the community, more than they would if they were just going to work and coming home.
“It speaks for itself.”
The “neighbourhood” of Multicultural Tamworth has grown significantly in recent years, but Mr Whitham said younger helpers were needed.
Council event coordinator, Carol Hughes, said Fiesta has grown dramatically in its short lifetime.
“Last year, we had representatives in the street, whether it be food or entertainment from 24 different countries and I was very happy with that,” Mrs Hughes said.
“This year it was 43 countries, so it’s almost doubled.”
There’s no sign of slowing for the annual street party, with plans already in place for more growth next year.
Mrs Hughes said the 2018 edition will spill over into the upgraded end of Fitzroy St.
“We’re turning the corner next year into Fitzroy St, so we might have the food outlets on Peel St and the entertainment on Fitzroy,” she said.
Saturday drew “well over 7000” locals down to Peel St, proving a packed social weekend across the region was no handicap for the council event surpassing organisers’ expectations.
“This event has always been on the second weekend of October since it started,” Ms Hughes said.
“We’ve got visitors from Sydney and visitors from other regional centres.
“They’ve chosen to have [other events] this date which is fine, but we draw seven or eight thousand to this event.”
Eateries star among the stalls
NO PRIZES for guessing which stall had the longest line at Fiesta La Peel.
It was the red meat smorgasbord sizzled-up by the Safari Club which had visitors salivating the most.
Offerings from established restauranteurs like Le Pruneau and Pat’s Lebanese Catering also proved popular.
With home-cooked delicacies from around the globe on offer on the main drag, people still flocked to the familiar faces and businesses.
“A lot of people don’t necessarily go to restaurants, but they’ll come out to free festivals,” organiser Carol Hughes said.
First-time stallholders, Amos Hadfield and his family, dished up some traditional New Zealand and Polynesian meals, including Hangi and Chop Suey, meals usually prepared for birthdays and gatherings.
“We’ve been coming to this the last couple of years and we thought we’d put up a stall and give them a taste of Kiwi, a taste of home,” Mr Hadfield said.
“Hangi, raw fish, chop suey, all that goodness from home.”