Ticket sales for Whangārei's popular Fritter Festival are the highest they have been since the event began in 2013.
The seventh annual festival - which promises cool beverages and, as the name suggests, a plethora of delicious fritters - is on at Northland Events Centre on Saturday for the seventh time.
Rachel O'Gorman, Whangārei District Council marketing and events team leader, said to date, this year's festival has seen the highest ticket pre-sales ever.
"Ticket sales are tracking really well, and both our VIP and Social Club areas are now sold out.
"The engagement that we are receiving from our social media channels is extremely positive and we are looking forward to the atmosphere that all the excitement brings to the festival on the day," she said.
This weekend's Fritter Festival features a seven-act stage line-up; 15 food vendors from top Northland eateries who will plate an array of gourmet sweet and savoury fritters; 11 Northland vineyards serving up fine wine; and a purpose-built, giant waterslide.
It will be headlined by iconic Kiwi band Dragon, and Drax Project who were recognised as Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards while also winning Single of the Year for their hit Woke Up Late.
"There has been lots of buzz around Drax Project and Dragon particularly," O'Gorman said.
The festival contributes significantly to Northland's economy.
Although figures on the economic impact of last year's festival were unavailable, reports showed the total economic benefit of the 2017 Fritter Festival was $1,162,810.
O'Gorman said one of the important economic strategies of the event was to make sure the money stayed in Northland. This means the only money spent outside of the region is for the headline acts.
"Another outside of the square economic impact of Fritter is that part of its strategic objective when it was launched, was to present the concert proposition to promoters that Northland was a market where successful festivals can come.
"Ultimately this has paid off as Northland Events Centre now hosts large national concerts such as Six60 and recently Fat Freddy's Drop."
O'Gorman said 5500 people attended the event last year and she was hoping this year's festival would attract a crowd of 6000.
Surveys showed 74 per cent of last year's attendees were from Whangārei, 8 per cent from other parts of Northland, 14 per cent from Auckland, and 4 per cent from other parts of New Zealand or overseas including Matamata, Tauranga, Australia, England, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne.
"Consistent feedback is that locals love attending this event and enjoy bringing family and friends from out of town to the event," she said.
Celebrity chef and food writer Peta Mathias will judge the best fritter at the event which starts at 11am and finishes about 7pm.
For more information and tickets visit eventfinda.co.nz/2019/whangarei-fritter-festival/whangarei
FRITTERS - what's available on the day
Crispy chilli chocolate fritter served
with pomegranate icecream OR Fijian
taro leaf and chickpea fritter with spiced
Mussel, courgette and ricotta fritter
with prosciutto, watercress, pinot grigio
caviar with honeyed balsamic drizzle.
CABBAGE TREE CAFÉ
Garlic prawn fritter OR corn fritter.
FEOH ESPRESSO WAIPU
Grandad Taiaroa's mussel fritter –
NZ green lip mussel and more NZ green lip
mussel served with a pepper jelly.
Seafood fritter OR mussel fritter.
PALATE WHOLESOME COLLECTIVE
Okonomiyaki Japanese fritter with
plant mayo, house-smoked BBQ sauce, nori
crisps and slaw.
HELENA BAY CAFE
Scallop and prawn fritter with lime
and coriander served with sweet chilli jam
OR corn, zucchini and chilli fritter served
with miso mayo.
NORTHTEC - THE APPRENTICE
Caramelised Greek yoghurt and
roasted dark chocolate fritter with cocavo
and white rum truffle, toasted coconut
flakes, chocolate walnut biscotti and
Sea shepherdess fritter: crispy herb
hash topped with ribbons of smoked carrot
lox 'salmon', dairy-free cream cheese,
capers and basil seed 'caviar', served with
sea chicory slaw OR
hunt and gather fritter: crispy herb hash
topped with creamy mushrooms, smokey
veggie 'bacon', guacamole and cherry
THE BUTTER FACTORY
Spiced rum and pineapple fritter
with a scoop of icecream and cinnamon
SMITH & LOCAL
Chickpea, feta and courgette fritter
with beetroot hummus OR sweetcorn
fritter with pesto sour cream.
Chillied bacon pumpkin fritter with
a coriander roasted garden chilli salsa
OR pineapple passion almond fritter with
TREATS, CAKES AND PASTRIES
Mussel and crab fritter on bap with
aioli or Asian slaw.