The orange flag was waved, and soon the air in Bingara was filled with the delicious citrussy tang marking the start of the Happy Days Orange Festival.
Whether coming to continue a log-standing family tradition, paying respects to our service men and women, or making the journey for the first time to experience what has become a cultural phenomenon for the regional town - it was a rare thing to see a face without a smile.
And if you did spot someone without a mile-wide grin, it was because it was currently being stuffed full of the delicious, juicy pulp.
Messy faces and full bags, many stopped to chat with the Express to explain just what the day meant to them.
Watch the rush to pick-in right here:
All about the challenge
"I've been looking and keeping my eyes on the trees that usually grow the biggest ones," Howie Green enthused.
The Year 4 Bingara student thrives on the competitive aspect of the festival, and was still keeping his eyes peeled, searching for that elusive whopper.
Finding some that could rival the biggest, he lamented that another girl in his class had found "some really big ones."
Even MP Adam Marshall - unable to attend after testing positive to COVID-19 in Sydney - refused to miss out on the fun.
"He told me to tell everyone to take photos of their big oranges, because next year he'll pick the biggest orange anyone has ever seen," mayor Mark Coulton told the crowd of almost 200 pickers.
Carrying the torch
Pauline Patterson has made the pilgrimage every year since moving to Newcastle, keeping the tradition going she and her family established long ago.
She was born in Bingara, schooled in Bingara and taught in Bingara, and now takes Bingara back with her - in the form of oranges - to her current school every year, except the last COVID-19-ridden year.
"Every year I take leave especially to come here for the festival," she told the Express.
"And I'm not the only one, many people come back to celebrate this festival. It would have to be one of if not the biggest tradition in the area."
Crowds and stalls flock
With the threat of COVID-19 ever-present in the background, made all too real with Mr Marshall's plight, organisers say the 2021 festival is one of the biggest they've ever seen, both in terms of crowds and stall participation.
"This is definitely one of the biggest crowds, and we've fielded so many inquiries at the centre," tourist officer Jenny Mead explained.
"We have around 40 stalls for Saturday, which is on par if not higher than normal."
With really good crowds attending, she said she'd never seen the road filled with so many parked cars, nor seen the caravan parks quite so full of people taking advantage of the free camping.
"Today, there are so many families of two and three generations coming to pick the oranges together - it's just fantastic."
Unlike anywhere else
Jeanie Fevos came all the way from Fingal Head to experience the town's segment of tradition with her long-time friend and local Helen Cornish.
"I'm just blown away," she enthused.
"Especially with the foresight of the people who planted these trees in the first place, to create such a thing for the town, it's incredible.
"The trees give back to the town in so many ways, and reflects and remembers the service of our soldiers," Ms Cornish proudly added.
Time for family
Isabelle and Audrey Crump experienced their first ever orange festival, and already were joining their brothers in absolutely loving everything about the day.
"I think it's something definitely ingrained in town to come," their mum Sarah said, clearly happy at the fact that teaching her kids about Bingara's history wasn't boring at all.
"We come to teach the kids to respect the fallen soldiers and remember the town's past - but it's also a heap of fun!
"We all wait the entire year for this day."
For the Johnson's, it's the same. They say the sense of pride the children have in the oranges is unrivalled by anything else.
"It is a really big thing for us," mum Kylie said.
"The kids are very protective - telling people to move along if they stop to pick them, and making sure they all have signs on the trees telling them they're being watched by the 'orange police'," dad Owen added.
Mrs Johnson has been going to the festival for decades, "as long as I can remember".
"It's exciting - even for me!" she laughed.
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