CHRISTMAS came early for many in Bega on Thursday night.
As well as the estimated 2000-plus revellers enjoying Christmas carols and family entertainment in Littleton Gardens, a select few also claimed some top prizes in the Bega Chamber of Commerce annual prize draw.
Topping that list was Cherrie-Lyn Frith, of Angledale, who won $5000 worth of “Bega Bucks” – vouchers that can be spent at local businesses.
The night’s events followed a day of children’s activities, street stalls and local business spot specials as part of the Bega Chamber of Commerce Christmas Carnivale.
Carp St was closed to traffic for the day, with market stalls stretching the length of the main strip, bookended by two popular jumping castles.
As the temperature eased off and the sun dropped lower in the sky, the Bega District Band warmed up and representatives from Bega’s various churches performed crowd-favourite Christmas carols interspersed with Scripture readings.
Santa’s arrival caused a riot of children hoping for wave from the big man in red – and perhaps a lolly or three.
For the “big kids”, the annual Bega Chamber of Commerce prize draw was more enticing, with items including an outdoor setting, a big-screen TV, an armchair and Bega Bucks galore up for grabs.
Chamber vice-president John Watkin said the promotion was a great success.
“There were obviously a lot of people there for the carols, probably our biggest number ever,” Mr Watkin said.
“It seems many came early to enjoy the park and the weather.
“For the main draw it was hard to say how many people were there, but it was certainly more than last year.
“Last year it was estimated to be about 1500, so if that was right than we’d be pushing past a couple of thousand this time.”
That the day was hot – although not quite as extreme as Friday – may have affected numbers during the earlier activities.
However, Mr Watkin said from speaking with many in the crowd, “overwhelmingly people were stoked”.
“By closing the street off we were trying for that festive feel.
“The weather was against us a bit – especially for the stalls in the middle of the street.
“There was a bit of activity though – and the kids were loving it.
“The number of kids with their faces painted was incredible.
“It seemed to start early and quietened down mid-afternoon, but then a lot came back later at night.”
The new-look Littleton Gardens’ features were also a popular drawcard, the water fountain in particular on such a warm summer’s day.
“Even the president of the chamber [Mal Barnes] took a dip to cool off,” Mr Watkin said with a laugh.
Overall, the Chamber was very happy with the way the promo went.
“The response to the Bega Bucks draw was great – there were literally thousands of tickets in the draw,” Mr Watkin said.
“We also had 42 participating businesses, which was great.
“They weren’t all Carp St either…some were from North Bega and so on.
“And our sponsors, as always, gave generously.
“We can’t wait to do it again next year.”
Christmas Carnivale winners
Cherrie-Lyn Frith, Angledale: $5000 Bega Bucks thanks to Bega Cheese
Jill Carter, Bega: $150 Bega Bucks and Mitre 10 outdoor setting
Kellie Heffernan, Candelo: $150 Bega Bucks and Sportspower bike
Vicki Hanscombe, Bega: $250 Coles voucher and Priceline gift basket
Keith Motby, Bega: $500 Coles voucher
Carly Jennings, Candelo: $300 Bega Bucks and Priceline gift basket
Kadyn Osbrough, Bega: Barbecue from Barbeques Galore Bega
Joccoaa Lee, Bega: Designer mirror by Shane Crocker
Vicki Whyman, Kameruka: Club chair from Southern Home Furniture One Bega
Julie Martin, Bega: TV from Betta Home Living Bega and $200 Bega Bucks
A’Treal Wilson, Bega: $300 Priceline gift basket and $250 Coles gift voucher