The recent bushfire emergency highlighted the tremendous community spirit that is the backbone of our valley during adversity, but it's important at this difficult time to put some joy back into people's lives and to see a smile on children's faces.
This Saturday's Kempsey Riverside Markets Twilight Christmas Festival will do just that. Kempsey will host a fantastic morning of fun in Smith Street with a crazy day sale, 'show and shine' car show for the motoring enthusiasts, a dance parade, dog show competition and live music to keep everyone entertained.
Kids can have a photo taken with Santa - and then have their face painted - or enjoy lots of fun on the jumping castles.The Twilight Markets' activities at Riverside Park kick off at 3pm and you can find a Christmas gift or treat at one of the 170 stalls on display.
You can cool down while watching the North Coast Speedboat Classic demonstrations and water-skiing displays on the river, and Santa will be safely delivered to the wharf by special escort from the SES boat crew. It would not be a Christmas Festival without some magic, along with music from the Macleay Bagpipes and Drummers.
The show-stopper for the evening will be the Christmas laser spectacular that will light up the sky once the sun goes down.
While everyone is encouraged to come along to have some fun and join in sharing the goodwill of Christmas, the day will also be a chance for people to get together to share experiences and show support for others affected by the recent bushfires.
For people keen to show support for those still involved in the bushfire recovery and ongoing firefighting efforts, there will be places where you can donate money at both the Smith Street event and Twilight Markets.
After the heartbreak experienced by many in our community impacted by the recent bushfire emergency, I'm looking forward to sharing with you this opportunity for the community to come together in a festive celebration of all that is good about the Macleay.