THIS year's Vodafone Festival of the Friendly North raised $59,938.20 and the committee has big plans to give back to the community through projects.
While these big plans are being eyed by the committee, thousands of people from around Vanua Levu surely enjoyed the week-long festival, despite the crowning of the queen happening after 10pm on the final night.
It is somehow, a norm and quite unique about the annual festival of Labasa Town which has not dampened spirits of the people of the provinces of Cakaudrove, Bua and Macuata.
It has instead fostered unity among the people of different ethnic groups who worked together in stalls, decorating and building of floats and the diverse ethnic groups cheering together from the pavilion and ground of Subrail Park, bringing to life or putting into action the alternate name of the division, the Friendly North.
For the first time, the Public Service Commission, which included statutory bodies and civil works contractors, won the charity title raising $30,007.50 beating past years frequent winner — Fiji Sugar Corporation which raised $17,000.
PSC contestant Laite Dakuwaqa, humble in character and very soft spoken, waved to the crowd as she made her way for the charity crowning.
It was also the first time for the Labasa Hospital to sponsor a contestant and they returned home winners of this year's festival having their queen, Tanveen Kaur, crowned Miss Vodafone Festival of the Friendly North.
In closing, Vodafone's marketing manager Shalendra Prasad told more than 4000 people gathered at the park to burn high the spirit of the Friendly North.
"Our sponsorship of this carnival is our way of saying thank you and acknowledge the committee and the people of the north for the continued support and loyalty to Vodafone," Mr Prasad said.
"Scores of people from around Vanua Levu and surrounding islands converge at Subrail Park to celebrate our cultural diversity, have fun with families, all in all have a good time together," he said.
He praised the festival committee for being transparent with the money raised from the annual event and putting it to good use.
Committee festival president Mohammed Yasin assured the people of Vanua Levu of a bigger and better festival come 2013.
"This year we stepped into having a category for the ladies and it will be bigger next year. We thank you all for your support and coming in huge numbers to be part of the festival this year," Mr Yasin said.