Voice of Real Australia: Pre-pandemic feels are coming back

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People had to bring their own chairs in and had to stay in their zones at the Ballarat SummerSalt Festival. Photo: Adam Trafford

People had to bring their own chairs in and had to stay in their zones at the Ballarat SummerSalt Festival. Photo: Adam Trafford

Do you get the feeling an element of "pre-COVID life" is returning?

Same, same but different.

Ballarat chilled out to its SummerSalt music festival on Sunday and quite possibly gave regional Australia an insight into events to come.

The grounds were expanded and split down the middle; the 7000 punters had to bring in their own chairs and were spaced out in pods through the grounds, with walkways in between.

It's one of the first big events in Ballarat as the coronavirus recovery continues, and follows on from the city's Beer Festival and Funk'n'Fest.

In Wollongong, the focus was on something quite specific - cannoli. Massimo Papa has celebrated a self-proclaimed Cannoli Day at his business in Fairy Meadow for a while now - and he was not going to miss 2021.

Although the event attracted fewer Sydney punters this year due to less promotion amid the COVID-19 pandemic, you have to think selling 11,000 cannoli by 3pm ranks as a success.

And it's not just the bigger regional centres enjoying being able to socialise together again.

Thousands spent the weekend in the sun at Tumbarumba in the NSW Riverina.

One of the last events in the Riverina to go ahead last year before the pandemic hit hard, Tumbafest managed to return this year after a decision to cancel the event was reversed.

On Saturday, over 2000 people headed to the event, with another 1000 attending on Sunday to enjoy live music at the main stage, bar facilities and more than 50 stallholders selling their goods.

Event coordinator Karly Fynn said it was "incredible" to see the event going ahead after the past year.

"It was perfect weather, everyone behaving themselves in relation to COVID rules and social distancing," she said. "They've really embraced what we're trying to do."

And in Western Australia they're planning ahead.

Here Comes The Sun, an always-popular event, will return to 3 Oceans Winery in April - just a little less cosy than everyone is used to with just 150 tickets to be sold.

Of course the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines will help event organisers return to some sense of "pre-pandemic life" but it just won't be the same. It would be irresponsible to think the vaccine marks the end of the pandemic, but it's a start.

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