2017 Stawell Gift: Friendly family atmosphere builds on top of anticipation

Children form long queues for Sunday's Easter Egg hunt at the Stawell Gift.
Children form long queues for Sunday's Easter Egg hunt at the Stawell Gift.

THE traditional Easter Sunday Family day at the Stawell Gift saw plenty of visitors take advantage of a more relaxed atmosphere at Central Park.

Event director Ricky Marcy said it was all part of the push to continue raising the off-track entertainment value of the Gift.

“Our tagline is more than a race,” he said. 

“We certainly do not want to be taking anything away from what is happening on the track but we want to add to it.

“For people coming in from out of town, there needs to be stuff to keep them entertained,” Darcy said.

The amped-up entertainment value of the Gift also embraced its first off-track street party on Saturday night.

“We worked together with the Northern Grampians Council to put that together,” Marcy said.

Bands played for more than two hours during the evening as more than 1000 people enjoyed the entertainment and the food trucks.

The weather in Stawell made for perfect conditions across the first two days and led to big numbers making their way through the gates.

Numbers through the gate on Saturday were up on last year and Sunday’s atmosphere was positive and continued to build off the track in a fun family environment.

Children enjoyed a plethora of events throughout the day on and off the track.

It all started with a free junior athletics clinic with former Olympics athletes at 9am before racing officially got underway at 9.30.

The Easter egg hunt was a big drawcard during the middle hours of the day. 

More than 500 children enjoyed the hunt with 300 registering to take part before the day.

“We only had 200 take part last year,” Marcy said. “So numbers doubled in that aspect. There was also face painting and our animal nursery was popular; Sunday is certainly more family orientated.”

All together, the atmosphere continued to build but all the while the anticipation of what was to come on Monday lingered in the background.

“Everyone builds from Saturday all the way through to Monday,” Darcy said.

“You can tell when the main gift races are on because all the attention turns back to the track.

“Come the semi-finals and finals on Monday it becomes more and more about the races.

“You can hear a pin drop at the start of the Gift finals and then it’s all over like that, but the anticipation in the lead-up is something to experience.”