With a 5000-strong crowd and punters up dancing earlier than any other year organisers have declared the fourth annual Fritter Festival a resounding success.
Venues & Events Whangarei's Rachel O'Gorman said an official crowd count had not been done yet when she spoke to the Advocate yesterday but on Friday night ticket sales had reached 4800 and several hundred more people walked up on the day.
She said the event at Toll Stadium had grown in popularity over the years, with the first Fritter Festival attracting a crowd of 3100.
"We've got more people coming from further away. We have our regulars and new people showing up.
"We had people travel up from Auckland and Hamilton, we have people from Kaitaia and we had some people from England. We also had the New Zealand Motorhome and Caravan Association here. We've been working with them for about six months to provide spaces so they came up and they're from all around New Zealand."
The festival hosted performances from Katchafire, the Jordan Luck Band, Tiki Taane and Auckland's Hipstamatics as well as local acts from Otium, 5K, The Gold Cloaks and The Avenues.
"It was really interesting because people were up dancing earlier than any other year. They got up really quickly and loved all the bands," Ms O'Gorman said.
There were 30 vendors at the event, and the fritter contest was valiantly fought.
Land and Sea Bar and Eatery from Ruakaka were triumphant with their snapper fritter which was voted best by celebrity chef, and fritter judge, Chelsea Winter.
But it was The Old Stone Butter Factory who stole the hearts of the people, winning people's choice for their paua fritter.
This year the Fritter Festival introduced a cashless payment system with the use of AWOP cards which could be loaded with money on the day, making paying at individual stalls more efficient.
Ms O'Gorman said the crowds were well behaved. St John Ambulance staff saw fewer patients than last year and there were no police incidents.