The Fryers Street Food Festival returned to Shepparton’s CBD after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
Organisers say it was a chance for the community to come together after a tough few weeks of dealing with floods.
At least 15,000 people attended the festival, which featured food trucks, stalls by local eateries and live music.
Along with dealing with water that inundated Shepparton and Mooroopna, including her parents’ street, there was also the cancellation of events. “We had a lot of events get cancelled, unfortunately,” Ms Collier said. “We had a wedding, a birthday, and usually on weekends if we don’t have events we would park at the Shepp lake but that went fully under as well.”
Like many people, she and her family have felt helpless as the river rose. She managed to get their van into the Shepparton Showgrounds where hundreds of volunteers were filling sandbags for days on end. “One of the nights we just cooked for the volunteers that were there,” she said. “That was a bit of a spark of hope for us.”
Ms Collier said there were lots of times that she was proud to be from Shepparton. She said the way the community had worked together over the past few weeks was something she would not forget. “We thought we were doing something by cooking for the volunteers, but to be honest we got so much more out of it by being around people because it was such a great atmosphere,” she said.
This weekend the community once again came together, but instead of filling sandbags or cleaning up houses, they celebrated with the return of the Fryers Street Food Festival. The event saw several streets in the Shepparton CBD closed off as food trucks lined the streets, as well as stalls from local eateries.
Ms Collier said the festival had come at the right time for not only them but the community as many began their recovery. “The town was buzzing which was really nice,” she said. “I think a lot of people were there to hang out but also to see how everyone else is going after the floods.”
Festival back bigger and better
The festival returned after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Event coordinator Jamie Lea said she hoped the event would provide something special for the community which had been through so much over the past few weeks.
“It was just the most wonderful atmosphere and I feel that there was a sense of gratitude in the air and just appreciation, I think, for each other and an opportunity to gather in the way that we did,” she said.
Ms Lea estimated this year’s festival saw between 15,000 to 17,000 people through the gates over six hours. Organisers were unsure how many people would be able to attend, given how widespread the floods had been. “We get a lot of visitors from out of town too, whether it’s Echuca, Albury, Yarrawonga, Benalla, Euroa. They have also suffered in some way, shape or form so I wasn’t really sure how our numbers would be,” Ms Lea said.
Ms Lea said the success of the festival was a credit to the hard work of everyone involved who had persevered through the pandemic and now a natural disaster.
ABC Shepparton/Courtney Howe
Image Credit: ABC Shepparton/Courtney Howe
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