WHEN the inaugural Bangalow BBQ and Bluegrass Festival was launched, organiser Fletcher Potanin said he would have been delighted with a turnout of 500 people.
So when tickets sold out at 2000 people, he knew he was on to something special.
The former Nashville, now Bangalow resident, said he came up with the idea two years ago.
"When I was in Nashville I first experienced good southern barbecue, slow cooked, and of course bluegrass music," he said.
"And when I found those two things here in Bangalow when I moved down, I was so delighted that I began doing barbecue ribs for my school fete.
"I had massive success, and I kept doing it for all the schools in the area, and that's when I realised there's a lot of people who love a good quality meat dish. And if we can combine that with music, we might not just get 500 people to a school fete, we might get 2000 people in an arena.
"So it's a way to generate massively more income for schools than they could ever do on their own."
Funds raised on the day will go towards the Northern Rivers Rail Trail and supporting art in local schools.
Fundraising competitions included a barbecue cook-off, guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle "pickers competition" and kids' games.
Mr Potanin said given the success of this year's inaugural festival, there will most likely be a 2015 Bangalow BBQ and Bluegrass Festival.
"We've obviously massively exceeded our expectations and as a consequence, we'll be raising about $20,000 for local charity," he said.
"Put the great meat, the great taste, the fabulous sounds of bluegrass music, old style wholesome values of Bangalow - that's the magic formula."
Kim Watling from Unumgar, north of Kyogle said it was "a dream day".
She entered the pickers' competition on guitar and fiddle, but said she was "easily outclassed in the first round by some of the finest in the country."
"It had some of the finest up-and-coming bands and it was a true alternative for families and young people ."
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