Freedom feast draws massive crowd
INITIALLY set to be a simple sit-down community meal, the Coffs Central food court was alive and bursting with jubilation as residents from all backgrounds were up on their feet in spontaneous dance.
Dozens of phones were whipped out to film the heart-warming scenes at the Freedom Feast, with a turnout that left event organisers amazed.
"We had around 270 people RSVP, but on the night over 500 heads were counted. Even though we were scrambling to get more tables out, everybody brought a plate and put so much love and time into their food," said Andrew Davis, Sustainable Living & Community Programs co-ordinator.
As part of RefYOUgee Week celebrations, the food court was transformed on Friday night into a community room where anyone was invited to bring a plate of food and take part in story sharing, curated discussion and community performances.
"There was an amazing array of cuisines that you could never get from a restaurant," Mr Davis said.
"But overall, it was a chance where you could meet your neighbours and grow your understanding, deepen your connections and uncover common ground. There was such a heart-warming, amazing vibe."
The night featured a forum where seven former refugees of different cultures, genders and backgrounds answered questions posed by community members.
A number of performances also took place, including talented musician Ali Hussan from Syria who plays the Saz, a fashion parade and fusion dances.
Mr Davis couldn't believe the response from diners, who stood up and began to dance during the performances.
"As it got to the performances people started standing up and dancing. The sit-down dinner turned into this amazing, spontaneous dance and celebration and everyone had their phones out filming.
"The event was meant to finish at 8.30 but everyone was still dancing at 9.30 when we were forced to shut things down."
If you missed out on the event, Mr Davis said a professional film crew captured footage from the night which is expected to later be released on social media.