For those who were drawn in to the Edmonton International Fringe Festival Lottery, last night was a jackpot.

Dozens of eager participants gathered yesterday to anxiously watch the draw at the TransAlta Arts Barns. Nerves were calmed by laughter as angelic host Amy Shostak of Rapid Fire Theatre jested about the 2010 festival theme, which was announced that same evening; “It’s All Gravy.”

Theatre companies from all over the world entered the draw to win a spot in the Edmonton festival and were able to see results instantly as the lottery was broadcast via live video streaming. Winners secured themselves a venue in the festival, which runs next summer from Aug. 12-22.

At its essence, most appreciate the festival for its raw originality.

“I really love that there are so many people that have these unique, brand-new stories to tell that can be put on and produced, where you might not normally get the funds to do it,” explained Dawn Friesen, a Fringe Festival patron.

Beginning as a grassroots festival, Edmonton Fringe is rapidly expanding, increasing ticket sales and attracting more international acts.

“People really appreciate the theatre that is coming to this festival. I think we saw that last year with the ticket increase of over 20 per cent over 2008,” said marketing and communications director Natalie Ozipko.

“I think people are starting to really recognize that it’s a great affordable theatre. You don’t have to be paying a lot of money, but you can see really great theatre.”

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