"CULTURE and creativity are integral parts of every great city and with its fine teachers, the Manning Entertainment Centre and you, the entrants, Taree and district can take a bow."
Tim Stack smiles with pride as he talks about the Taree and District Eisteddfod, of which he has been president since 1978.
From what began as a small competition 47 years ago, it is now the largest eisteddfod in country Australia attracting thousands of entrants each year who travel from as far as Queensland and Sydney to participate.
"The eisteddfod is Taree's standout annual major event of which we can all be so proud.
"We have a huge responsibility on behalf of all future entrants to enable them to perform at this wonderful community funded centre and on this stage.
"Let's hope on our golden anniversary in three years time that your eisteddfod is fully recognised for the ideals it stands for and we can still afford to be here."
Speaking at this year's grand concerts, as he does every year, Mr Stack highlighted the success stories of young people who have competed in the eisteddfod who have gone on to the world stage and also gave well wishes to those who were competing for the final time this year.
"We hope you carry fond memories of your performances here and please be aware of the privilege we have had as volunteers to watch and admire your advancement."
He enlightened the audience to the full cost of running the five-week event, which last year came to $142,000 (in 1978 the cost was $5000).
"Our biggest expense is our beautiful Manning Entertainment Centre, which last year alone was nearly $55,000. Up to last year we have run without any assistance from Greater Taree City Council or State and federal governments."
Following the eisteddfod's request for assistance this year, council agreed to donate $5000 and has also asked the eisteddfod society to prepare a business case to show its economic and social value to the Manning Valley, to enable council to provide increased assistance in future years.
"The case will be strong given that on (group weekend) alone we had 2386 dancers on this stage in two days, most from away."
He also thanked all the financial sponsors, whose support makes the event possible.
"Each year we try and lift our game as we welcome those performing for the first time.
"One way is to try and limit your costs of entry as we know how much it already costs you to learn and practice your chosen skills and we want to do all we can to encourage your entry."
He gave thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who put in the hours to coordinate the eisteddfod and the armies of entrants over the past 47 years who have given steadfast support to the ideals of the eisteddfod - "Pacing one another on the road to excellence with each competitor being inspired to be the best they can be in the spirit of friendly competition."
Major award winners were announced across both concerts.