THOUSANDS of visitors will make a beeline for the border over a jam-packed Labour Day weekend, which marks a welcome return to COVID-normal.
With the arts and entertainment sector halted for almost a year owing to the global pandemic, the reboot of festivals, shows and rodeos could not be more timely for tourism operators and the public alike.
Among this weekend's signature events are Tastes of Rutherglen and Rutherglen Tastes of Art Prize, Tallangatta Show, Chiltern Rodeo and Mighty Mitta Muster with the popular new Upstream Festival of Art + Culture now back in Albury-Wodonga for its second year.
One of the North East's premier festivals, Tastes of Rutherglen, will host wine masterclasses, vintage tastings and dinner events on Saturday and Sunday.
Nineteen wineries have teamed up with border and North East chefs to present hero dishes matched with fine wines.
The Rutherglen Tastes of Art Prize attracted record entries this year, buoyed by a year of lockdowns and fewer exhibitions.
Chief administrator Irena Webster said 518 entries were received from all states and territories excluding Tasmania and Northern Territory.
"We put it down to artists having fewer opportunities to exhibit and sell their works and people bursting with creativity in isolation," she said.
"We've noticed the vibrancy in the works and also the size of them; a lot of artists have gone to the limits with bigger canvases.
"We also had a record number of youth entries, 109, up from 60."
Category winners were announced on Friday night before the exhibition at the Rutherglen Memorial Hall runs on Saturday until Sunday, March 14.
IN OTHER NEWS:
The 125th Tallangatta Show will offer a bumper, family-friendly program at Tallangatta Showgrounds on Saturday.
Three world champion wood choppers will line up at 11am while the pavilion will be overflowing with crafts, flowers, jams, pickles and fruit and vegetables.
Family entertainment includes free face-painting, Trixie the Clown, dog high jump and side show alley.
Andy Hooke, who works with hand tools to split, shape and dress timber, will demonstrate the traditional craft.
Gates to the recreation reserve open at 2.30pm with the main event from 6pm; there's bull riding, saddle bronc, team roping, steer roping and wrestling.
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