The 2019 Rhino Awards gala night is on track to sell out as Dubbo's stores and firms celebrate business achievement in defiance of the drought.
Only a handful of 400 seats remained available 10 days out from the Dubbo Chamber of Commerce event, themed 'Starry Night'.
The "extremely strong" ticket sales, coupled with sponsorship levels that more than matched previous years, was welcomed by chamber president Matt Wright.
"Ticket sales are really positive, and when you put an event on for 400 people, with the current economic conditions, in the current climate, you get a little bit nervous, but certainly the general public and all those involved in it took up the opportunity to be there, which is great," Mr Wright said.
Sponsors had shown interest early on, six months ago, the president reported.
"The level of sponsorship this year across all categories was actually up slightly, which again, in the current environment was probably a little bit surprising, but again pleasing from the chamber's perspective that businesses wanted to be involved in the awards," Mr Wright said.
The event is set to present 14 Silver Rhinos before crowning a new Gold Rhino winner as Dubbo's most outstanding business.
Mr Wright said at the award finalists night in September, sponsors had elected to purchase tickets in addition to their allocated tickets so they could bring their whole team.
"They use it as a bit of a celebration and a night out and a bit of a reward for their team," he said.
The chamber leader also anticipated the gala would add to economic activity.
"Your beauty-type businesses do well, your fashion-type businesses also do quite well over that period," Mr Wright said.
"So certainly it does contribute quite significantly to the overall economy as well."
I know a lot of businesses are going to experience some challenges over the next 12 months, but I'm of the belief that Dubbo's got a pretty resilient spirit...Dubbo Chamber of Commerce president Matt Wright
Mr Wright regarded the theme as fitting for a city with a business community that had some "superstars".
He said a lot of businesses had evolved and diversified.
"I know a lot of businesses are going to experience some challenges over the next 12 months, but I'm of the belief that Dubbo's got a pretty resilient spirit and we should get through that," he said.
"So certainly there's some stars in the business community, so we'll see a few of them shining on Friday week."
People have their say on Service With A Smile
Community members had rushed the chance to vote for their favourite entry in Service With A Smile, sponsored by the Daily Liberal.
The number of votes cast through an online system was up nearly 50 per cent on the previous year.
Ian Grattan from GPS Plumbing, Drainage and Gasfitting, Olivia Rabbett from Ray White Real Estate, Paige Simpson from Black Tambourine Coffee and Eats and Rebecca Henry from Spoilt Beauty were announced as the finalists.
Mr Grattan, a plumber for 19 years, was "pretty stoked" to be a finalist.
"It means hopefully our service is appreciated by our customers," he said.
"It's good to get a bit of feedback, it keeps you going."
Ms Rabbett said she was honoured to be a finalist.
"I am passionate about ensuring my clients and customers are delivered the highest quality of service in their real estate journey," she said.
"I love this town, and it is great to be recognised by the people of Dubbo in this category."
Paige Simpson said even to be nominated was an honour.
"I love my customers and going to work every day," she said.
"That my customers love seeing me as much as I love seeing them is an honour."