27 October 2023

A spooktacular Halloween festival planned for Port Kembla hopes to give local businesses a BOO-st

| Keeli Royle
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Tonitto Cakes owner Wayne Henderson with halloween candy and cakes.

Businesses along Wentworth Street are getting in the spooky spirit ahead of Fear Fest. Photo: Keeli Royle.

Wentworth Street has risen from the dead with the popular Port Kembla hub hosting a frighteningly fun day of activities to attract families to the industrial town and showcase the budding and booming businesses along the iconic stretch.

Fearfest is back for its third year and the annual Halloween event is expected to be the biggest yet, with countless activities and experiences to celebrate the spooky season.

“Port Kembla is the obvious choice for an event like this with the spooky vibes of our historic industrial setting and very close-knit business community,” Port Kembla Chamber of Commerce Secretary Kelly Lorimer said.

“A few years ago it was decided that people were always going to have preconceived ideas about Port Kembla because the history of the town is so well known. We decided to embrace it and it’s really taken off.”

READ ALSO Could Port Kembla be the new cool kid on the block?

More than a dozen businesses right along the street have got involved and put their own spin on festivities and ensure there is something for everyone, from a haunted house to psychic readings and face painting.

The Servo is one of the many venues getting into the spirit with a full line-up of events including a dog costume parade, live drawing, a Halloween special showing at its outdoor cinema, a zine workshop and DJs and bands playing their spookiest tunes.

“It’s a great opportunity where all of the businesses, the general community and the audiences within the town get really involved,” venue manager James Spink said.

“And that’s one of the really special things about Port is that everyone really backs each other and gets around things that are going to benefit the whole street, the town, the area, not just benefit their own interests which is really cool.”

Shave Cave Owner Martelle Jackson playing pool.

The Shave Cave will run a pool competition for Fearfest. Photo: Keeli Royle.

Taste buds will be tingling at Tonitto Cakes, with participants of all ages bringing in their own crazy creations for a baking competition.

“I think if you can get something that is fun and elaborate and scary, that will really stand out I think that will be really great and a real winner,” Tonitto’s owner Wayne Henderson said.

And after a successful run last year, the Shave Cave is set to host a pool competition, which coincides with the business’s second birthday.

“It’s just such a good community, it’s really nice to see Port Kembla starting to pump again and there’s all these new businesses and everyone is getting involved in it,” owner Martelle Jackson said.

“I just hope that everyone has a good time and it just brings exposure to the businesses that are in Port Kembla because it is hidden away off the highway so people don’t really know what is here but Port Kembla has a lot to offer.”

That exposure is especially crucial for Kiara Ortega, who only opened her dessert bar Delicioso last month.

“I love celebrations, Christmas for me is my favourite time of year, but anything celebration-wise I’m always up for,” Kiara said.

“I think it’s a super important event for me to show people what I have here because it’s bringing new people, so I’ll have to be on my A-game.”

But it also provides a chance to showcase the fast-growing area.

“Port Kembla is definitely coming in leaps and bounds at the moment, we’ve got new businesses opening up, there’s new things happening in the street and the whole of Port Kembla,” Wayne said. “There’s always something happening.”

“There is this revitalisation and resurgence of Port as a bit of a hub and an entertainment precinct and bit of a cultural and creative district,” James said. “It’s got really rich history and throughout the years has really varied into so many different things and now it’s entering this new phase, it’s just getting people to discover it now.”

READ ALSO Delicioso Dessert Bar owner turns her sweet dream into a reality with new Port Kembla shop

Chamber of Commerce President Greg Rodgers was thrilled with the direction the town was heading, and the future opportunities that could come with its growth.

“Port Kembla already has a thriving art and music scene, but lately we’re seeing a real uptake in the night-time economy,” he said.

“With venues such as the Vault, the Servo, the Back Alley and the Iron Yampi capturing the attention of the wider Illawarra community, entertainment and food is the new scene,” he said.

“We’re excited to see so much positive energy coming into the town with new business and other annual events such as Wonderwalls and the Port Kembla Festival finding their home here.”

Port Kembla Fearfest kicks off at 11 am this Saturday 28 October. For more information and a full list of activities, visit the event Facebook page.

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