An Autumn Festival over the Easter weekend was the idea of a energetic group of volunteers to give people another reason to stay and play in Tenterfield, and they're very pleased with its first run.
"The festival was, without doubt, a huge success for the town," the organising committee's Kerri Hampton said.
"The CBD of Tenterfield was overflowing with tourists and locals, with businesses having some of their biggest days on record."
The main drawcard of the festival was the Saturday night concert at Tenterfield Showground headlined by Shannon Noll, attracting not only locals but people from far and wide including Northern NSW, Dalby, Inverell, Glen Innes, Brisbane, Stanthorpe, and as far as South Coast NSW.
After barefoot bowls and more at the Tenterfield Bowls Club on Good Friday, some 2000 people headed to the fun day at Jubilee Park on Easter Saturday with over 60 stalls and live music. Afternoon entertainment included the Inglebrae Farm Bushman's Challenge and the NSW Farmers Tug of War, won by the undefeated Dumaresq Gladiators (in red), with second and third places going to the Tenterfield Rugby Union Bumblebees (yellow) and The Tug Boat Team (navy blue) respectively.
Tenterfield Lions Club and Tenterfield High School pooled their efforts to put on an Easter egg hunt in Millbrook park on Easter Sunday. This was a huge success with more than 400 kids (with parents in tow) treated to a morning of entertainment, Easter egg hunts, music, games, face painting and photos with the Easter Bunny.
Glenrock Gardens was busy hosting two events on Sunday. Its Gourmet Luncheon prepared by local chef Josh Telford was attended by 100 people, and the RFS Bonfire night in the back paddock was also well-attended, even by the Easter Bunny.
The final morning of the festival saw Tenterfield Station Homestead throw open its doors to visitors, offering morning tea and tours to more than 300 attendees. The homestead is undergoing restoration and more such events are keenly anticipated.
The Aloomba Lavender Farm barbecue lunch on Monday finalised the official festival program, providing a destination for an Easter Monday outing and a stopover for visitors heading home that way.
With wet Easters a regular occurrence in this part of the world organisers were thrilled that this week's deluge held off until after the program wound up, and that some ongoing drizzle and winds didn't impact the program too greatly.
While the committee did have some wet weather options Ms Hampton said logistically a full wet weather program comes at a cost and the festival had a tight starting budget, so luck was on their side.
This inaugural festival was pulled together in four months. She is confident that with more time, planning and funding the committee can put on an even better festival, potentially extending into other venues.
For now committee members will have a break before regrouping for next year's festival, but in the meantime Ms Hampton said they welcome constructive criticism.
While the committee enjoyed tremendous support from the business community, Ms Hampton said it may be possible to get more engagement with better signage, for instance.
"We don't want to be a committee that doesn't take on criticism," she said.
They also don't want to be in charge of every event, happy to include a range of self-managed events under the festival umbrella while putting on some key events themselves. Not only does this relieve them of some of the workload, but creates a collaborative involvement with other operators, Ms Hampton said, uniting the town.
"We physically can't do it all, and the collaborative opportunities are quite uniting."
The committee aims to focus on the younger generation, welcoming high school students' involvement in the Millbrook Park event, for instance. Ms Hampton hopes that the festival will develop to the point where it is financially self-sufficient and possibly even provide a paid position or two for young people interested in event management, even on a part-time basis.
She said the committee is often asked 'why over Easter?'. The answer is that Tenterfield's never had a major event over that holiday, it's easy to remember each year and -- with state public holiday changes meaning the loss of the June long weekend -- there's only Easter and the October long weekend available for a multi-day festival. And there was some funding available.
The festival not only gave local families a reason to stay home and spend locally for Easter, but also brought in a substantial amount of new money.