TasteFest on the Manning 2020 a celebration of community and food post bushfires

"The rain bothered nobody. It was the best gift we could have been given," Phil Grisold, organiser of TasteFest on the Manning said.

In fact, coupled with lower temperatures, the misty rain on Saturday, January 11 could possibly have drawn more people out to the riverside event than is usual, as the weather for the annual fundraising event by Taree Lions Club has, until this year, has been steaming hot.

"The whole thing was about Taree feeling good about itself and celebrating what we do well and in the centre of town."

Phil Grisold

One thing is for certain, whether down to the weather or not, this year's TasteFest broke all previous records. Based on a sample count, organisers estimate 15,000 people came through the gates. The event drew 65 stalls, the largest amount to date, and it took 100 volunteers to make it all happen.

Moneys raised from the total donation pool of TasteFest events through the weekend numbered approximately $25,000 to go to the Lions Club's three chosen charities: Manning Valley Push for Palliative, Can Assist Manning Valley, and the region's NSW Rural Fire Service brigades.

Part of the donated funds came from the annual Duck Race.

"We did better this year with duck sales on the day. We were way behind on the duck sales because of the fires. We went into the event with the worst duck sales we've ever had because of lack of people power and then we nearly caught up to last year in one day," Phil said.

"The ducks finally got their act together and were fast this year! We had a current and wind in the same direction for a change," Phil said.

Headlining the entertainment for the event was Beatles tribute band, The Beatnix, which drew a large crowd in the evening.

"They just topped it off," Phil said.

The Beatnix would not have appeared but for the generous donation of the payment of the band's booking fee, worth thousands of dollars, by Ian and Jennifer Carr of Saxby's Pharmacy.

"We really cracked it this year. We really actually smashed it. It was probably the vision I had in my head the first year, and we've learnt a lot. We finally had enough people to deliver it rather than a few people doing a lot," Phil said.

"The whole thing was about Taree feeling good about itself and celebrating what we do well and in the centre of town."