The Sydney Food and Wine Fair last Saturday raised $277,000 for the AIDS Trust of Australia.

While the takings were slightly down on last year, Trust CEO Terry Trethowan was delighted with the result.

It was a sensational day, he said, adding that the money raised will go toward funding HIV/ AIDS education, care and support.

This year we’re giving special attention to future funding, to projects that assist people living with HIV/ AIDS on the basis that there have never been more people living in Australia with HIV/ AIDS, Trethowan said.

And their needs are great.

According to the Trust there are currently about 18,000 people living with HIV/ AIDS in Australia.

As of December 2004 the rate of new infections was around 870 a year.

Around 30,000 people attended the event in Hyde Park to sample gourmet food from some of Sydney’s most exclusive restaurants, such as Claude’s, Otto, Marque and Caf?ydney.

Few would have missed the messages about HIV/AIDS. The park was full of red ribbons and the words care, love, give and trust were spelt out in large red letters suspended between trees. There was also a display of panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Meanwhile the Halloween festival on Oxford Street, Wicked Weekend, was hailed a success by the City of Sydney and organisers the Darlinghurst Business Partnership.

Ken Holmes from the DBP told the Star Council had confirmed its support for another Halloween festival next year and that there were talks of closing part of Oxford Street for it – possibly between Taylor Square and Crown Street.

However, a Council spokesperson said the issue wouldn’t be considered until the DBP had applied for funding.

Wicked Weekend was organised by the DBP in a bid to attract people back to Oxford Street, where ongoing roadwork has been detrimental to many local businesses.

The event, which featured fashion parades, singers, dancers and roaming drag queens, attracted a lot of the crowd leaving the Food and Wine Fair. Many of Oxford Street’s shops, caf?and bars participated.

We were very happy with the crowd, Holmes said. The energy was fantastic. The feeling was very uplifting. It was just nice to see people smiling on the strip again. People had a really good time.

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