Mansfield springs into the High Country Festival
THE Mansfield High Country Festival kicked off with a bang over the weekend, despite weather predictions for rainfall and strong winds.
Traffic began to bank up in town Friday lunch time, with visitors crowding the supermarkets and retail stores.
By the time the Sideshow Carnival began in Highett Street there were people everywhere – all keen to celebrate a long weekend in the High Country.
Overall numbers were down at the fireworks – some choosing to stay away due to the forecasted bad weather – but those who turned up were not disappointed, treated to a cheerleading inspired dance routine from MAD studios followed by 10 minutes of fireworks.
“There was a phenomenal outpouring of community spirit,” Mayor Harry Westendorp said of the Friday events.
“We were there watching the kids run around and it had the feel of a great community event - it all went really well.”
On Saturday rain arrived in spurts, but it was not enough to dampen the spirits of those who attended the bush market, the Median to Rare Sculpture exhibition or the grand parade.
“The bush market was less well attended than we would normally expect – and I suspect some people were expecting rain – the number of stall holders and visitors were both down but it was still very worthwhile,” Cr Westendorp said.
The cancelled Mansfield Fun Run impacted some of the accommodation businesses, who said the lack of Timbertop families coming to town to compete had seen overnight guests decline.
“I don’t think it was as busy as it has been in the past – the fun run made a difference to the numbers,” Melissa Foster from the Mansfield Motel said.
“It was just like any other busy weekend really.”
Kevin Wang, from the Mansfield Valley Motor
Inn, said the weekend had been better than predicted, and despite a few cancelled bookings due to weather was still up on 2018.
“The weather had a negative impact on our guest numbers – but it was better than we thought it was going to be,” he said.
“Hopefully this season will be better compared to previous years.
“The last three months of 2018 was like a recession year for us.”
Up the bush, with the tracks opening again for the summer, cars were going everywhere but straight as rain created muddy and treacherous conditions.
At least two cars lost their trailers off the side of the Circuit Road – towed back out by those passing-by with winches – and many turned around and headed home after hitting muddy ruts near the Razorback Hut turnoff.
It is expected the road conditions will improve as the weather warms up.
Of course, the fun didn’t stop at the weekend, with thousands expected to attend the annual Mansfield Melbourne Cup Day Races.
A must attend social event on the calendar, the races have gone from strength to strength in recent years.