Stormy and sunny Ballina Prawn Festival doesn't deter crowds
THE weather gods were kind to the Ballina Prawn Festival this year - just.
Since its inception in 2013, the event has copped all kinds of November weather, from an afternoon storm in its first year to sweltering heat in year two.
This year also offered up its share of weather surprises, with heavy showers in the morning and then a big storm in the final hour prior to the fireworks finale.
Event director Nadia Eliott-Burgess said the team had a few moments of anxiety in the morning when heavy rain hit after an 18-hour setup day on Friday in the heat.
"We stuck in there for what he hoped would be blue skies," she said. "And sure enough at 9am the sun came out."
The crowds came out as well, with an estimated 25,000 people enjoying a plethora of sights and activities from the opening grand parade to prawn shelling and eating, skating, raft building and racing, carnival rides and a huge choice of local food and music.
The weather gods kept a trick up their sleeve however with the last hour of the event smashed again by fierce storms.
But true to its ethos of rain hail or shine the fireworks went ahead.
"We had an unbelievably stunning day given what we were looking at when we set up, and made it all the way through until about 7.45pm," Ms Eliott-Burgess said.
"Then an incredible amount of water came from the sky. The beer garden became the place to be for the final half hour of the festival."
"(But) the fireworks went ahead and we were true to our ethos of rain hail or shine."
Ms Eliott-Burgess said the event generated $185,000 of local sponsorship without which it couldn't go ahead, and paid tribute to the 45 unpaid volunteers each putting in at least three hours of their time.
"I think that alone is indicative of how Ballina has embraced this event. We simply can't deliver something like this without them."