Port Fairy Winter Weekends organisers 'stoked' with attendance and feedback

Only days after the Winter Weekends festival concluded organisers are calling for ideas as they plan next year’s event. 

The program, organised by a group of 12 volunteers, included 120 events across a broad scope of genres and interests over four separate weekends. 

Winter weekends co-ordinator Loren Tuck said organisers were “stoked” with this year’s event. “We’re really pleased with how it went,” Ms Tuck said. “The events were really successful, we had many sold-out events and lots of others that were really well attended.

Dashing to the finish: Warrnambool's Danielle Hartley points the way down the course for her dog Theo at the Dachshund Dash as part of this year's Port Fairy's Winter Weekends festival. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Dashing to the finish: Warrnambool's Danielle Hartley points the way down the course for her dog Theo at the Dachshund Dash as part of this year's Port Fairy's Winter Weekends festival. Picture: Rob Gunstone

“It shows us that people are really excited to get out and about in winter and there’s an appetite for a really diverse range of experiences people can have.”

She said the festival aimed to increase the town’s economic and cultural growth during the traditionally quieter months. “By cultural growth we mean connecting locals and visitors to the cultural elements in town. It might be food, music, arts, our local environment, the things that make us unique. But we’re also keen to have people walking through the doors of local businesses in winter when it’s cold and slow.”

Ms Tuck said businesses would receive a survey next week to guage the festival’s impact and said traders’ feedback had been positive. “Anecdotally we’re hearing that there was a noticeable difference between the festival weekends and the non-festival weekends.”

She said the responses would help them to plan next year’s festival and help identify any gaps in the program. 

She invited the public to share their feedback or ideas on the festival's facebook page or website. “We take all the ideas seriously we’re really open to hear what locals want to do and what they want to celebrate about Port Fairy and the surrounding towns.

“People really need to think about the weather and what really makes this place special in winter and how we can capture that in an event.” 

She said while not all events were suitable in winter conditions it sparked new opportunities. “That opens us up to really unique events. I’d encourage people to get creative and to think about what they love to do here in winter and how we can share that with others.” 

Love Her Madly owner Rachael Street praised the committee for their ideas and said the town had been busier on weekends. “I think there’s been a really good response,” Ms Street said. “I think a lot of people are just amazed at how well the festival has been organised and the variety of events. I haven’t heard of a festival that’s been so comprehensive before. I feel really lucky to have a shop in Port Fairy and be able to be involved in it.”

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