COMPARED to past years, the Vodafone Festival of the Friendly North has inched another standard this year with professional elements on stage — oozing flames and attractive decorations that has served its purpose well — a favourite attraction to the annual northern event.
This year's festival has also drawn a huge crowd since it began last weekend.
With Subrail Park and its pavilion packed every night, the contestants enjoyed the applause of the crowd. There are always cheers and clapping as contestants, particularly the king contestants, make extraordinary moves while being introduced.
The contestants delivered meaningful messages challenging the public to live a healthy life for a healthy north. Miss APCO Paintings, 20-year old Susana Nasova challenged youths to make a difference with their lives — to move away from excessive drinking of yaqona and alcohol and instead get involved in farming.
She said such decisions would surely boost agricultural production and increase their income.
Parents were also reminded of the important role they played in the supervision of their children and to know who their friends were.
Festival committee president Mohammed Yasin said the week had been a success.
"From the first day of the festival until today, we have had a huge crowd turn up every night to support the contestants," Mr Yasin said.
"We have made a difference this year bringing in professional standard to our stage with unique decorations and flames that ooze out when our contestants do their catwalk. The stall operators also need the support of the crowd so having a huge turnout will help them earn good money during this festival week," he said.
Adding professionalism to this year's festival is queen chaperone, Arieta Moceica, who has formed a panel of judges with experienced professionals in the field of law, teaching, business and banking.
Mrs Moceica brought in Suva lawyer Ana Tuiketei as chief judge having her team and the box of results escorted by police officers during the contestants' time on stage.
With a day away to the closing of the festival, Mr Yasin has urged the community in Vanua Levu to step in and celebrate this year's festival with the committee as they work to set up community projects.