Sell-out success: foodies flock to festivals
While last year’s lockdowns and restrictions threw quite a large spanner in the works for our food festivals, this year they’ve come back stronger than ever. The country’s favourite culinary events have been selling out – some for the first time – as eager foodies scramble to get a taste of Australia’s most outstanding produce. It’s a win for everyone involved – while festival-goers get to experience the best of the best, the events also generate big economic gains for the regions that host them and more custom for our hardworking food producers. That’s certainly something to feel very festive about.
Eat Local Week sells out in record time
As Scenic Rim’s Eat Local Week marks 10 years of flavour this year, with more than 125 events at 48 locations, the event sold out just days after the program launched.
Celebrating a decade of deliciousness in 2021, Eat Local Week will be held from June 26 to July 4. The festival is set against the natural beauty of the Scenic Rim, a region of more than 4200 square kilometres of rich volcanic soil surrounded by ancient mountains. It’s the ultimate backstage pass to the farms, wineries and food stories of this extraordinary region.
Events such as the Winter Italian Feast at The Overflow Estate 1895, Dinner Under the Stars with the Scenic Rim Astronomy Association in Laravale, the Scenic Rim Cooking Class and the two-day tour with the Old Church B&B have all sold out. Mt Barney Lodge has added a second Sunset Eco Tour given the first one is fully booked.
The program features farm-gate events and culinary experiences for foodies of all ages, from Jamming with the Lambs at Towri Sheep Cheeses and Breakfast with the Jersey Girls at Tommerup’s Dairy Farm to long lunches, degustations, wine tastings and cocktail masterclasses. You can find out more at eatlocalweek.com.au
Tasting Australia back in a big way
Passionate crowds have devoured Tasting Australia as the festival made its triumphant return. The 10-day celebration of eating and drinking wrapped up on May 9, with more than 50,000 people visiting the COVID-safe Town Square in Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga and more than 90 events sold out across Adelaide and regional South Australia.
Tasting Australia Festival Director Simon Bryant says the local hospitality industry has proven its resilience amid the significant challenges presented by COVID-19.
“There’s a real sense of pride among everyone involved in this year’s festival that comes from continuing to share the world-class experiences South Australia is renowned for,” he says. “We invite guests to explore, discover something new and support our community.”
Festival highlights included Tasting Australia Airlines flights to Kangaroo Island and Coffin Bay, Farm Gate Lunch at Barossa favourite Yalumba, Cinco de Mayo Fiesta at Port Adelaide’s Pirate Life Brewery, the Autumn Harvest Feast at Coriole in McLaren Vale, a zero-waste dinner at Pasadena Foodland along with sumptuous meals in the new Town Square Kitchen.
Oyster festival the pearl of NSW’s South Coast
Organisers of the Narooma Oyster Festival have plenty to smile about right now: the event sold out for the first time in its 12-year history. Oyster sales were up 50 percent from 2019’s festival, with an impressive 70,000 oysters eaten over April 30 to May 1.
“We hosted Sydney food media over the weekend and were told that it’s the best food festival in Australia at the moment,” says festival chair Cath Peachey.
If that’s not impressive enough, the weather also turned it on with spectacularly sunny blue skies for the 6000 people that came through the gates over the course of the two-day event. This is up from 5000 at the last festival in 2019.
“If we weren’t restricted in capacity to meet our COVID-safe plan, those numbers would have been much higher,” Peachey says. “We were overwhelmed with ticket requests once the event sold out. We’re still crunching the numbers, but the direct impact of the festival on the local economy will be in the millions of dollars.”
Activities included dinners and cooking demos with top chefs, the annual oyster shucking competition and the biggest oyster competition, which was won by Batemans’s Bay farmer Bernie Connell and his oyster named Jack, which weighed in at a staggering 2.71kg.
Long lines along Oyster Alley helped boost oyster sales for local farmers, with oysters from six South Coast estuaries – Shoalhaven River, Clyde River, Wagonga Inlet, Wapengo Lake, Merimbula Lake and Pambula Lake. Visitors were also able to sample a range of South Coast produce like abalone and lobster, as well as different flavours like sea urchin roe ice cream.
With the festival over for another year, Peachey says the board is now focusing its efforts on activating Narooma Rocks destination dining events and the Narooma Rocks oyster van, a special food van that will attend food and wine events to showcase oysters from the estuaries of the South Coast, which was officially launched at the festival.