This year’s Burton Automotive Hunter Valley Steamfest had a lot to live up to, after the huge 30th anniversary event last year.
And while the attendance number appears to be down on the 80,000 who enjoyed the locomotive festival last year, the estimated 50,000-strong crowd is a great result for organisers and the community at large.
The 2017 Steamfest couldn’t be called anything other than a success.
Maitland City Council’s events coordinator Adam Franks agreed that the 30th anniversary was a hard act for festival organisers to follow.
“For us it was about continuing that momentum from last year,” Mr Franks said.
“We really wanted to emphasise the rally ground with the historic machinery, live blacksmithing, cooking and sheep shearers.”
Markets, locomotive displays, a show and shine, miniature train rides and model railway displays were among the many things to see and do across Maitland during the event.
The Great Train Race, which pitted a vintage Tiger Moth aeroplane against two steam locomotives, was a highlight of Steamfest again this year – with the plane passing the chequered flag first despite an outstanding effort by the train drivers.
Almost 400 classic cars and hotrods were on display in Maitland Park for the Show N Shine, which Mr Franks said ended up being one of the more popular attractions.
Thousands of people also boarded the historic trains for runs up the valley – another activity that’s a cornerstone of the festival.
“The numbers really picked up in the morning for the race,” Mr Franks said.
“There was a bit of a mixture, lots of locals but plenty of people from Sydney and even interstate.
“We even had a few from the US and UK stop in to say hello.”
And again, it was an event that proved to be common ground for young and old.
“The type of people you get at the event grew up with this stuff,” Mr Franks told Fairfax Media.
“But now they’re parents or grandparents their kids are interested in it. It just cuts across the generations and people all feel connected to it.”
The weekend was another shining example of how well this city does in the events arena.
Along with Taste, Aroma, Bitter and Twisted and Riverlights, Steamfest is a fitting part of Maitland’s social calendar and is showing no signs of fading.