There was a celebration of community in Beaufort on Saturday, despite the town experiencing a significant drop in visitors compared to previous Australia Day long weekends.
It is the first year the Rainbow Serpent Festival has not been held in the region in January since 1999, after bushfire ravaged the Lexton festival site.
Up to 20,000 people attend the Lexton festival annually, meaning thousands usually travel to Beaufort to shop at the supermarket, eat at the cafes and swim at the pool this weekend.
Although many were sad the festival had to be postponed, community members and business owners worked hard to promote activities and experiences that would entice new visitors to the town.
Colourful flags were hung outside shop fronts on the main street on Saturday, while hundreds of visitors flocked to the Beaufort Town Market and tried Vegemite themed treats at the food businesses in town.
It is a really good opportunity to promote what is going on in Beaufort as well as create connections together.Sara Kittelty, Beaufort Town Market Ambassador
The Beaufort Town Market ran from 8am to 3pm on Saturday, featuring a Vegemite tasting kitchen with sweets created by Kittelty's Cafe owner and Beaufort Town Market ambassador Sara Kittelty.
Vegemite chocolate brownies were a delicious surprise to the tastebuds, showcasing what Ms Kittelty described as the classic sweet and salty combination.
"It is great today because of the beautiful weather, it is a long weekend and there are so many extra people in Beaufort. It is showing itself off as well as it could today," she said.
See our full gallery of photos from the Beaufort Town Market below.
The Beaufort Progress Association has worked to use Vegemite as a point of difference in marketing the town, as part of a big picture goal to increase Beaufort's profile in the lead up to the highway bypass.
Vegemite inventor Cyril Callister was born just outside of Beaufort in the small town Chute.
A pop-up museum celebrating Cyril Callister's life and his invention of Vegemite is opening for the first time at the new Servo@23 on Monday.
It was the second year Beaufort's cafes and food businesses embraced the Vegemite theme and sold Vegemite flavoured produce like sausages, ice cream and scones.
"It is lovely to have a historical connection you can interpret in so many different ways," Ms Kittelty said.
Beaufort Market manager Sharn Oxlade said the new-look market that was launched in September last year had attracted new visitors who had also spent money at the town's businesses.
"There has been people from Melbourne who have come down for the day after seeing it in the RACV booklet," Ms Oxlade said at the market on Saturday morning.
"There has been people coming through to go to the Grampians and they have stopped and looked around and people from Ballarat of course. You can tell the locals, they all stand together and have a chat."
While attracting visitors is a focus for market organisers, it is clear the monthly event has become a meeting place for Beaufort residents too and is strengthening community connections.
"It is great to have the ability to have somewhere once a month people can come," Ms Kittelty said.
"I see people I don't see any other day of the week when I am in Beaufort but every month you can catch up at the market.
"It is a really good opportunity to promote what is going on in Beaufort as well as create connections together."
The Beaufort Croquet Club hosted a stall and demonstration at the market on Saturday to promote and hopefully increase membership to the club.
"We have had a few adults interested and we have children having a try too. The world champion is in his 20s," Beaufort Croquet Club treasurer Judy Beaton said.
The Beaufort Croquet Club is almost 100-years-old and currently has around 10 members.
"It is a great social game, a game of skill and I believe in a chance to a degree. You have good days and bad days. And you have the benefit of exercises," Ms Beaton said.
The Raglan Country Women's Association offering of devonshire tea was popular with market goers, selling more than 200 scones.
Fundraising efforts throughout the market had both local and bushfire affected communities in mind.
Alison Thomson played the accordion to raise money for bushfire and wildlife relief.
Local wildlife rescuers from Guwara Wildlife Shelter ran a sausage sizzle and raised almost $1000 plus $400 in cash donations for the Gippsland Raymond Island Koala and Wildlife Shelter.
Esther Hands from the Guwara Wildlife Shelter said the Raymond Island shelter had copped both fires and flood.
She said the effect of the fires on wildlife had been 'devastating' and she knew how tough it could be to keep up with demand at a wildlife shelter.
"It is the cost of food alone - for a kangaroo you are going through 20kg bags that can cost $550 and if you have more than one kangaroo that is lucky to last a month," she said.
"Then you have got vet bills and the teets and the bottles.
"It has worried me seeing the effect on the wildlife. It is terrible."
Gold coin donations were taken at entry to the market raising almost $200 to support the Lexton CFA following a tough fire season with the fire in December.
The market raffle raised almost $300 for Friends of the Beaufort Pool, who usually raise money from hundreds of Rainbow Serpent Festival-goers who swim at the pool this weekend.
The money taken at the pool from the festival-goers usually supports investment in the pool facilities throughout the year.
Sandy Watkins from Friends of the Beaufort Pool said funds raised from the market would support a project to extend the boundary of the pool east to set up a basketball court, cricket pitch and barbecue space.
The goal, as detailed in the community action plan, is to establish the pool as a community hub that can cater for all ages and abilities.
When asked about the future plans for the Beaufort Market, Ms Oxlade said she was working to continue expanding the number of stalls to create a 'packed' market in time for the postponed Rainbow Serpent Festival to be held at Lexton during Easter.
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