It attracts thousands of people to the tiny village of Nundle and the Go For Gold Festival is pulled off seamlessly every time. This weekend's event looks to be no different either, as Haley Craig found out.
IT IS a quiet village surrounded by rolling hills, and for the past 12-months the close-knit community of Nundle has been working on the next Go for Gold Chinese Easter Festival, that is set to take place this weekend.
In a nod to its Chinese mining heritage, the village streets will be transformed into a sea of lanterns and dragons. The smell of Chinese cuisine will waft through the air and the sounds of authentic Asian music will resonate through the crowds.
It’s Nundle’s biggest event of the year and there’s a hardworking committee who make it all happen.
The event will be held over two big days on Saturday and Sunday from 8.30am.
Festival favourites the Australian Yau Kung Mun Association will make their big return with colour and athleticism as performers maneuver the long, weaving dragon costume, and pounce from elevated poles as lions, at midday and 2.30pm.
A special feature this year is an evening show with LED lighting, and Regional Arts Fund wall projections, Protecting Harmony, at 7.30pm on Saturday,
About 100 market stalls will line the village’s main streets and in addition to the Chinese cuisine on offer, Brett and Pip Gorman are reopening Jenkins Street Guest House as a café, and Natasha Soonchild will open Stonecrow Studio in the former Nundle butcher shop.
New stilt walkers will entertain visitors as they roam the streets, while musicians perform throughout the weekend including locals, Golden Guitar winner, John Krsulja, The Voice contestant Jeff Gibson, folk duo Born in October (Rachel Webster and Mathew Thomson), and visitors Sax Summit, David Wei and Eva Timmers, and Lou Bradley and Phillip Chaffer.
“It’s definitely grown and the quality of stall holders as well has changed,” Organising committee president Heath Atchison said.
“People are dressing up their businesses with Chinese lanterns and busy getting the streets ready, preparing for the onslaught of people,” he said.
Come and be surprised at what a small community can do.Heath Atchison.
“It showcases Nundle as a town and what we can do. People leave with a positive and memorable feeling and they will go away and tell other people about Nundle.”
Mr Atchison said the challenge for the committee was keeping the festival vibrant and different each year.
This year’s event will also showcase calligraphy and allow guests to dress up in traditional Chinese garments for photos.
“Every time Easter is outside of the school holidays, the Saturday is massive and we can get 8,000 to 10,000 people out there,” he said. “The Sundays are quieter, but it still draws a crowd.
“Come and be surprised at what a small community can do.”
Good for business
Of course, wherever there's a big crowd, a big boost to business is expected and with Nundle set to swell in size, the village shops and vendors are gearing up for one ripper weekend.
Peel Inn publican Nathan Schofield spent much of the week ordering extra supplies for the influx of crowds.
He's also part of the organising committee.
Of course, extra beer is a given and so is the extra steak and chips - but Mr Schofield says there's also the added extras on the list.
"It's good for the town in the way of numbers," he said.
"People come to our village with only 250 people and we get up to 18,000," he said.
"It's a good promotional tool for business, they could come here this weekend and then they might come back six months later on any given day when it's not as busy.
"We're ordering extra of everything. It's the little things that no one thinks of too - I think we have ordered 900 metres of toilet paper.
"There's also seating and it's really nice we could call on the farmers to donate their hay, especially when the state of NSW is in drought."
And it's not only the food, but the fashion that has the tourists talking.
Theresa Eather of Sacs on Jenkins is gearing up for her biggest weekend of trade for the year.
"It's just a vibrant and buzzing atmosphere," she said.
"I've got lots of new things in and some stock from last year that I'll put on sale for clearance.
"It's the biggest weekend for retail and it keeps us going for a while."
Mrs Eather said the event was also a chance for her business to showcase some unique items that they might not see anywhere else in the region, including pearl, gold and silver jewellery, tipped to draw the savvy shoppers.
"From a business perspective, there's a lot of marketing and meeting new clients, but we also see the older faces that come in and say hello, it's really nice.
"As a community, we all get together and make this festival a success."
The power of the festival does not only impact on Nundle, but regionally through those who make a long weekend out of the big event.
Deputy Mayor Helen Tickle said the Go For Gold Festival was a treasured attraction on the regional calendar, which provided a boost for tourism and the economy.
“It is a tourist attraction for the region and in particular, Nundle,” she said.
“We are hoping to attract a similar number of people again this year.
“I can report that there is a record number of stalls and the hotels and caravan parks are all at capacity – it is of great economic benefit to Nundle. It’s become an attraction not only to our visitors but also to the locals.”