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First ever Day @ The Port a huge success
February 9, 2023

Attendees have called Saturday’s Day @ The Port event a huge success, following 11 hours of wall-to-wall free entertainment.

Wellington Shire Council’s first Day @ The Port was held at the Port of Sale Precinct on Saturday 4 February and 10,000 people stopped by to see what all the fuss was about.

The event started at 10.30am, and with many eager to be first in line for food trucks and free carnival rides, the Port of Sale’s Grand Canal Drive was soon full of people of all ages and backgrounds.

Day @ The Port was the vision of Council’s Arts and Culture team, including The Wedge Performing Arts Centre, Sale Library, and Gippsland Art Gallery, with significant support from The Middle of Everywhere and the Central Gippsland Visitor Centre, based at the Port of Sale’s Wellington Centre.

A free family-friendly, carnival-like event was promised in the lead up, and that is exactly what was delivered. Albeit a wet and windy summer’s day, the community support for Day @ The Port was unmatched.

Wellington Shire Council Mayor, Ian Bye attended the event and was blown away with the community support.

“I knew how much hard work went into organising the day, but to see so many people at the Port of Sale and exploring the wider precinct was an amazing outcome”.

“My favourite part was having so much entertainment in one place, it was easy to bring the family and keep them entertained for hours. The carnival rides were full all day, Sale library hosted kids’ activities, and food trucks had to keep restocking to meet demand. Then the live music and outdoor bar came alive after dark”, Cr Bye said.

There were clear winners to the day, local food trucks and makers set up along the glorious Port of Sale, carnival rides, and free performances of The Australian Shakespeare Company’s Wind in The Willows provided free entertainment for kids and adults all day long. And finally, live entertainment didn’t disappoint. The rain cleared just in time for 6pm to roll around and the main stage came alive with local band The Soultanas, followed by Danny Spencer, and headline act, funk bank Vaudeville Smash from Melbourne. Thousands of people gathered in the outdoor amphitheatre adjacent to The Wedge Performing Arts Centre to dance the night away.

The community came out in support of all aspects of the event, sharing positive comments in person and on social media in the days following the event. Linda Horstman shared on Facebook that it was “wonderful to see people of all ages out and enjoying a free event”, and Sue Centra said, “hats off to all the people that put in the hard yards”.

Investment in the local community topped $800,000, and through promotion of the region by The Middle of Everywhere, visitors spent on average $80 each during, and in the days following the event.

15 food trucks attended on the day, and with a preference for local businesses, most were sold out and needed to restock after a busy lunch rush. We thank the local creators who braved the weather and set up stalls, offering a Makers Market for visitors. Although many needed to pack up to avoid the wind, their attendance was welcomed by many eager early-morning visitors.

Thousands of visitors made their way back into Sale to catch a glimpse of The Middle of Everywhere fireworks display at 9.40pm, rounding out a fantastic day at the Port of Sale.

Thank you to everyone who braved the wintery weather to support Day @ The Port. Wellington Shire Council hopes to host more community events like this in the future, and community support makes it possible.

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