THE line at the ice-cream truck stretched and bended as thousands made the most of the sunshine and warm weather at the Ballarat Begonia Festival at the weekend.
Sheep, cows, goats, turkeys and parrots drew big crowds of children and parents, with many taking the chance to jump in the pen of the petting zoo to get up close with their favourite fury friend.
Natalie Miller, from Miners Rest, took her sons Max, 3, and Jimmy, almost 2, to see the animals as part of their first Begonia Festival experience.
“The kids have loved everything,” Ms Miller said.
“Not just the animals, but also the paddlesteamer and all the other activities keeping them entertained.”
On the main stage local bands kept crowds entertained, while nearby a drumming band led a loud percussion down by the water.
Across the road in the gardens, celebrity gardeners Melissa King and Costa Georgiadis offered advice for do-it-yourself gardeners, including how to best grow vegetables in tight spaces and making the most of local plants, while a home grown vegetables competition was held nearby.
John and Mary Klellend came all the way from Adelaide and said it was their seventh time at the festival.
“We always love it and this year has so far been excellent,” Mr Klellend said.
“The combination of beautiful flowers, entertainment and great weather make it hard not to love.”
City of Ballarat Destination and Economy councillor Samantha McIntosh said the festival had been “pumping” all weekend.
“The crowds have been great and are on par if not better than last year,” Cr McIntosh said.
“Saturday’s numbers would have been over 8000 and Sunday probably around 9000.”
Today’s parade is expected to draw more than 10,000 people to Wendouree Parade, with 52 floats on show.