As the sun set on another May Racing Carnival, it's worth pausing to reflect on its value and importance not just to Warrnambool but the south-west.
While acknowledging racing isn't for everyone, the economic benefits are easily understood. Visitors come, stay, eat, drink, shop and visit towns along the way. The state government this week said more than 31,696 people attended last year's carnival with more than 69 per cent travelling from outside the region. That created a $14.7 million boost to the economy - 20 per cent up on the previous year.
The Warrnambool Racing Club, the Warrnambool City Council and our community must be doing a lot right if almost 70 per cent coming to the event live outside the region.
But the carnival's value goes far further than just dollars and cents.
Socially it's the biggest week of the year. Old friends catch up, people make new friends, share a laugh and are generally happy.
What is often overlooked is the global and national promotion of our region that even terrifying sums of money can't buy.
The races were broadcast live on free to air television across Australia and streamed online internationally. The rise of online betting apps and devices meant that among the racing and hoop-la, the council's 'I Am Warrnambool' promotional campaign was repeatedly seen by millions around the country and the world.
The sumptuous footage of the south-west, from our spectacular coastline to Port Fairy to Lake Pertobe to Hopkins Falls, the Blue Hole ... the list goes on and on ... was lapped up and admired universally.
It is off the back of international events like the carnival, the Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling Classic and Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic that we can leverage such promotions. It is the cream on the tourism cake. The I Am Warrnambool campaign, that included a booth at the racecourse, was slick and impressive.
The benefits might not be instant but they will flow in the future. It's a sure bet the event goes a long way toward boosting our long-term economy and prosperity.