Soaking up the WinterSun in Merimbula

There may have been no Merimbula Jazz Festival this year, but organisers of the long weekend's WinterSun Festival did a fantastic job filling the gap.

Although Friday night's Food Truck Friday fell victim to the wet weather, there was no such misfortune for the Salty Swim on Saturday where a host of swimmers braved the cold for an early morning dip at Mitchies Jetty, with hot coffee and a barbecue breakfast to warm up afterwards.

Festival organising committee member Lynn McColl said there had been around 70 swimmers who registered to take part in the Salty Swim.

Then throughout Saturday Market St was closed to traffic and a sound stage set up for bands to play. While they didn't get huge crowds, the audience was enthusiastic and obviously enjoyed the different varieties of music on offer. Some listeners decided to opt for the warmth and jazz in the RSL Club.

One particular winner for the weekend was Top Fun where manager Andrew Fox said they worked in conjunction with WinterSun organisers.

"In previous years we've not had a big identity, but this year we had staff dress up, face painting, gift bags and free coffee for the adults and it was very busy - I didn't expect it to be as busy as it was," Mr Fox said.

At Club Sapphire the bowling rinks were also busy with families enjoying the opportunity for some barefoot bowls.

The Ecumenical Jazz Service organised by Sapphire Life Church with the Merimbula Uniting and Pambula Baptist Churches drew a crowd of about 80 people at Club Sapphire.

While at Kalaru, Sapphire Coast Turf Club held a WinterSun Festival race day, which drew around 600 people club CEO Robert Tweedie said.

"The event was a big success, we had a lot of visitors from out of the area attend as well," Mr Tweedie said.

Mr Tweedie said he enjoyed the collaboration of the races with the festival as he finds it important to work together to bring people to the area.

Ms McColl echoed this when she said the best aspect of the festival was how it brought people together and supported local businesses during the quieter, winter season.

"I think the idea has really struck a chord with people, so I think it will be something that we can grow very well and we've had really good feedback from retailers so that's fantastic," she said.

Ms McColl said she thought making the WinterSun Festival an annual event would not deter Jazz Festival attendees, but rather complement the Jazz Festival by bringing in more visitors looking for things to do and reasons to stay in Merimbula over the long weekend.

"It will fit in beautifully with the Jazz Festival, it won't take people away from jazz, it will give people something to do who are not going to jazz performances."

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