GALLERY: Big crowds for Begonia Festival

Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister
Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister
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 ABC gardening expert Carolyn Blackman - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

ABC gardening expert Carolyn Blackman - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Tasia, James and Sasha Clark - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Tasia, James and Sasha Clark - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

 Sue and Steve Scott (Festive Factory) with their camels Compost and Toyota - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Sue and Steve Scott (Festive Factory) with their camels Compost and Toyota - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Hayley Murphy - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Hayley Murphy - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Elizabeth Gilfillan and Raoul Dixon - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Elizabeth Gilfillan and Raoul Dixon - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

THOUSANDS of families made a beeline to the 2014 Ballarat Begonia Festival at the weekend. About 12,000 people spilled through the gates on Saturday, marking day one of the three-day festival at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens at Lake Wendouree. 

Attendance was up by 4000 on the Saturday this year, with 4630 people visiting the free begonia display in the conservatory.

Ballarat City Council mayor Joshua Morris said free entry into the conservatory and the clear skies helped boost attendance this year. 

“The weather has been a huge factor on attendance,” Cr Morris said. 

“The rain we had overnight has helped the begonias stand tall today.” 

Flower displays and workshops captured the interest of adults, while children were amused by live entertainment, woodwork and potting workshops. 

Special guests included 2013 Chelsea Flower Show winner Wes Fleming and gardening identity Melissa King.

Mr Fleming, director of Fleming’s Nurseries in Monbulk, won Best in Show at London’s Chelsea Flower Show last year. 

Horticulturist Karen Godfrey, who manned the Botanical Garden Shop at the festival, said she had sold hundreds of begonia plants.

“It has been steady and busy,” Ms Godfrey said.

George and Noriko performing their brand of Japanese Blues PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

George and Noriko performing their brand of Japanese Blues PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Theo Ward dances to some Japanese Blues PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Theo Ward dances to some Japanese Blues PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Maia Draper watches the construction of a birdbox in the woodworking area PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Maia Draper watches the construction of a birdbox in the woodworking area PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

 Kate Minster with her birdbox in the woodworking area PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Kate Minster with her birdbox in the woodworking area PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

 Mr Whiskers PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Mr Whiskers PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Katrina Marriott and Zara Phillips clap along to Mr Whiskers PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Katrina Marriott and Zara Phillips clap along to Mr Whiskers PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Jacob and Melina Scobie watching the performances PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Jacob and Melina Scobie watching the performances PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Javier Valderrama and son Oscar take a break under the trees PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Javier Valderrama and son Oscar take a break under the trees PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Darcy Heinrich gets a bird's eye view PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Darcy Heinrich gets a bird's eye view PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Begonia Festival. Diesel the St Bernard PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Begonia Festival. Diesel the St Bernard PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Ben Burga (Correct) cookin' up some bangers on his HX BBQ PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Ben Burga (Correct) cookin' up some bangers on his HX BBQ PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Savannah Studd makes a new friend with a goat PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Savannah Studd makes a new friend with a goat PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Callum Orr-Millis and Silkie PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Callum Orr-Millis and Silkie PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Matt Hinchliffe and daughter Jazmine construct a birdhouse PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

Matt Hinchliffe and daughter Jazmine construct a birdhouse PIC: JEREMY BANNISTER

“The Non-Stop Begonia variety has been very popular.”

Sasha and Patrick Walkeden - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Sasha and Patrick Walkeden - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Aaliyah Bhatte paints up her pot - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Aaliyah Bhatte paints up her pot - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Steve Scott (Festive Factory) with his camel Toyota - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Steve Scott (Festive Factory) with his camel Toyota - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

 Alannah and Cesar Alvarenga - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Alannah and Cesar Alvarenga - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

 Isobel and Camille Wrochna  - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Isobel and Camille Wrochna - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

 Bronte and Lyla Molloy - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Bronte and Lyla Molloy - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Lyall Grinter - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Lyall Grinter - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

 Steve and Linda Potter  - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Steve and Linda Potter - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Peyton and Paige Rego - Begonia Festival day two  PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Peyton and Paige Rego - Begonia Festival day two PIC: Jeremy Bannister

Crowds also flocked to the free begonia display in the conservatory.

Victorian Begonia Society treasurer Kevin Butterworth said the free access into the enclosure had helped flower sales. 

“I’m sure this is the first year we don’t have to pay to get into the conservatory,” Mr Butterworth said. 

“It encourages people to spend at our stalls.” 

Begonia grower Stan Woolstencroft said it was great to see so many people turn out to the event. 

“We haven’t seen the younger generation come up to carry on (the begonia legacy),” he said.

“We need to get more people interested.” 

Mr Woolstencroft, 81, has been growing begonias for almost three decades at his Timboon property. 

He has attended the Ballarat festival for the past four years.

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