Wagga is back and ready to party.
That was the message at the weekend as the Wagga Food and Wine Festival returned with a bang and other large events attracted thousands of people to the city.
Food and Wine Festival committee chairman Phil Burgess described Saturday's event at the Victory Memorial Gardens as "wonderful".
"The only unknown that I had going into this was the crowd, we weren't certain because online ticket sales weren't roaring away," Mr Burgess said.
However, any fears were quickly dispelled as "in excess of 2000 people" turned up to eat, drink and be merry.
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There was a great atmosphere for residents, visitors and vendors alike and everyone was "rapt" to be back.
"The favourite thing for me was how I felt," Mr Burgess said.
"That might be a bit selfish, but I was so relieved to see all those people come through those gates.
"The crowd was so well behaved, so happy ... they looked like they'd just been let out of a cage.
"Wagga is ready to party again I think."
Christie Hassgall was at the festival with her food truck, Slinky Spudz, and said she was glad events were back after a tough two years that saw her livelihood taken from her overnight.
"It was fantastic, really busy," she said. "We have three food trucks ... so [COVID] was a massive hit for us, it was our only source of income.
"Being a blended family, I have two children and my partner Troy has five ... to find out that we don't have an income for the next couple of years was world shattering at the time."
Wagga mayor Dallas Tout said the huge crowd at the festival was proof the city felt comfortable opening back up.
"It's fantastic. If this is the beginning, it's going to be a very big year this year ... there is a lot more events this year and it's going to be a really brilliant 2022," Cr Tout said.
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