ORGANISERS of this year’s Wunta Fiesta are vowing to return to Liebig Street next year after crowds surged into the city centre on Friday night.
Extra events and good weather are credited with an overall boost in numbers for the three-day festival.
However, temperatures soaring above 40 degrees kept crowds away from the fun yesterday.
Speaking beneath a shady spot at yesterday’s Live at the Lake show at Lake Pertobe, Wunta chairperson Catherine Williams had few doubts about using Liebig Street’s open space again.
“Absolutely, there’s no reason not to keep it running. As long as we have the support of the traders and the community,” Ms Williams said.
“It’s not just one night, it’s a whole weekend.
“We did open the street up, which has been a cry out from the community.
“I’ve wanted to do that for a while and it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. There were a lot of hurdles to overcome.”
A sold-out breakfast on Friday attracted three times as many people as to last year, while a waiters’ race in the evening saw Premier Denis Napthine compete against Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh.
Open-air movies and Beats at the Lake were also added to this year’s fiesta program.
Skate competitions and the Undy 500 stayed on the bill, while blank laneway walls were transformed into colourful murals by local artists.
“Everything we’ve done this year we hope to do bigger and better next year,” Ms Williams said. “The traders gave it their all. The heat certainly plays games with it but last year it rained.”
Saturday afternoon’s Jazz in the Gardens is also being more widely promoted as a drawcard event.
“It was flat out,” festival logistics boss Glenn Scott said.
“In the 16 years I’ve been involved with Wunta, I’d say this was the most ambitious.”
Seanchai owner and Wunta committee member Josh O’Dowd said Friday night brought hundreds of people through the pub’s doors.
“It was absolutely fantastic. We couldn’t have asked for a better night,” Mr O’Dowd said.
“Next year hopefully we’ll be able to apply for an extended liquor licence and have a beer garden out the front.
“Venues (like the open street) benefit everyone.”