Shopkeepers are happily reporting booming sales ahead of an influx of visitors arriving in town for the Wagga Gold Cup carnival and the Raiders NRL game later this week.
The Gold Cup is typically one of the busiest days on the Wagga calendar, but last year the event was held without crowds due to coronavirus restrictions.
It returns this year with a vengeance, and Big4Holiday park owner Martin Cotterell said he has been fully booked for about six to eight weeks in advance.
"We've had strong bookings for several months ahead in anticipation for those events. Most of the places around town are fully booked," Mr Cotterell said.
"It's great for the town and it's fantastic for all the other shops, restaurants, those ancillary businesses that exist on the tourism side."
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Mr Cotterell said if anything it was a little too busy, saying he would prefer it if the NRL and the Gold Cup were hosted on different weekends so that Wagga could feel the full benefit from both events.
In agreement was Jardine's Cafe owner Matt Cunneen, who said his cafe would struggle to keep up with the level of demand.
"Gold Cup for Wagga's a huge thing, and to add to it there's the football and there's march-outs from Kapooka, so it's going to put a lot of pressure on the town," Mr Cunneen said.
"It's good for business, but it's also not. You can't provide your full service when it's so busy and you're turning people away because of seating capacities."
Even clothing shops are seeing the pre-Gold Cup boost, with RB Sellars' Liz Cronin anticipating a rush over the next few days.
"Usually last minute a lot of customers come in from out of town come in to pick up some pants or a couple of dress shirts to wear to the cup," Ms Cronin said.
"We're expecting a bit of a rush closer to Thursday or Friday morning."
Ms Cronin said they were also hoping for some more rain, saying their rural target demographic tended to splash out on clothes during the rainy season.
"Farmers tend to go shopping when it rains. April's been pretty dry, so a little bit of rain will be a lot better," she said.
Last year's Gold Cup was held in front of an empty stadium due to COVID, but this year organisers are expecting between 7000 and 8000 attendees. The carnival starts on May 6 with the Town Plate and then the actual Gold Cup day on May 7.
Wagga's 2020 Raiders match was cancelled due to COVID restrictions, but will return on Saturday when the Canberra Raiders square off against the Newcastle Knights.
The 2019 game saw about 10,000 football fans packed into the Wagga stadium, but this year's crowds have been capped at 6945 due to coronavirus restrictions.
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