Apple and Grape Festival volunteers Doug Mackenzie, Greg Thouard (vice president), Bill Brown, Annette Brown, Neil Magnussen and Max Hunter (president) stand under the festival arches that were erected on the weekend.
Apple and Grape Festival volunteers Doug Mackenzie, Greg Thouard (vice president), Bill Brown, Annette Brown, Neil Magnussen and Max Hunter (president) stand under the festival arches that were erected on the weekend.

Arches up as festival countdown properly gets underway

THE countdown to the Apple and Grape Festival is truly underway with the erection of the main street arches.

In the early hours of Saturday morning festival volunteers placed the archways in place, at opposite ends of Maryland St.

It’s a symbolic moment in the build up to each biennial event, with just 10 days remaining until the 10 day festival.

“The festival is shaping up very well,” president Max Hunter said.

Despite expecting bigger crowds than 2018, one event has fallen by the wayside.

The iconic gala opening event has been cancelled, with fewer than 30 responses.

“A part from that all the other events are in place,” Mr Hunter said.

“As far as bookings go they’re all very good, our marketing has been very positive.

“I’m predicting you’ll see more people in town this time than any previous event.”

The lack of festival ambassadors, the sponsors and families that go hand-in-hand with them, may have been the gala openings unravelling.

“It’s a first for the festival. We left it as long as we could but things weren’t going to improve.

“I’m not sure if it’s a transitional change in the way people want to be entertained … a generational change.”

But there are plenty of positives 10 days out from the festival.

“We’ve just had another bus book in to come down,” Mr Hunter said.

“With the archways up and the lights and the bunting I think you’ll find local excitement will kick into gear.”

More than four decades after attending his first festival, Mr Hunter himself still loves the event.

“”I seen my first one in 1972.

“I’ve been involved with it since 1982. I had a break between 2004 and 2014 but then came back into it in 2016.

“Seen a lot of changes. Been quite a ride at times.

“I think we put on a very professional event and one all the locals can be proud of and that’s the reason we’ve kept doing it since 1966,” he said.

The first event of the festival is on Friday, February 28 with the street party and turning on of the festival lights in the main street piazza from 6pm.