Hundreds turn out for inaugural Winter Bites Festival

Jude McGrath, Fiona McGrath and Kate Molkentin.

Over 400 people gathered at Courabyra Wines in Tumbarumba on Saturday to celebrate the first ever Winter Bites Festival.

With an aim of showcasing local produce and beverages, and bringing visitors into the region during the cooler months, Winter Bites featured an array of live music, stallholders and fun activities for people to enjoy.

Festival organiser Belinda King was extremely pleased with how the day went.

“We’re so happy with the weather after yesterday, it’s a really great atmosphere; it’s very chilled and relaxed,” she said.

“We’ve got some really great stallholders, so obviously we wanted to showcase regional produce and beverages so we’ve been able to do that.

“It’s great to see so many visitors as well, so again that was the aim of the funding – to bring visitors to the region – and we’ve definitely done that.”

People had travelled from all across the state, and country, to be there, including from Albury, Bombala, Wagga Wagga, Sydney and even Tasmania.

“Unfortunately we’ve had a lot of Victorians who were unable to come, but hopefully things will ease there and they’ll be able to come to one of the others,” Ms King said, with similar events planned for Adelong and Batlow this winter.

She said that those in Victoria who were unable to attend Winter Bites in Tumbarumba have had their tickets moved across to one of the other events, so they won’t miss out.

Early Bird tickets for Adelong have already gone on sale and have exceeded the number of tickets sold at Tumbarumba’s event.

“It’s huge,” Ms King said.

“Kasey Chambers has been a big drawcard.”

Early Bird tickets for Batlow will be going on sale later this month.

In Tumbarumba, meals were provided by Munday’s Catering, and food stalls such as Junee Licorice and Chocolate and Local and Learmonts showcased a range of local produce.

For drinks, Courabyra Wines was a highlight – with the event being held on their property – as well as Tumut River Brewing Co., Crafty Cider and Riverina Gin.

Ms King said there were some local drink companies that wanted to attend but didn’t have enough stock, so will be at future events. She also said that many of the food and drink venues who were at Tumbarumba will be returning for each instalment of the Winter Bites festival.

“It’s really nice that they’re going to be at all three, and then we’ll be able to introduce some more food stalls at the others as well,” Ms King said.

One of the key features of the Winter Bites festival is that it occurs in the winter months, a time that is usually considered a bit off-peak. Ms King said that the aim of the festival is to increase visitation to the Snowy Valleys during this time of year.

“Maybe you don’t associate going to an outdoor festival in the middle of winter,” she said.

“There’s people here from all over the state, so for them to come into the Snowy’s at this time of year, have a great time, and hopefully decide to come back at maybe one of the warmer times of year and see what it’s like then.

“The four seasons are really distinct in the Snowy Valleys so it’s really nice we can highlight this and bring people into town at a quieter time.”

Ms King said that local businesses have been getting on board with the festival, with a number of ‘fringe events’ organised on the same weekend as the festival and proving very successful.

“[Visitors are] certainly staying, they’re spending money, and that’s the idea; these businesses and people who were affected by the bushfires get something back, and whether that’s monetary or whether it’s people just becoming aware that they’re out there, what they do, what they sell, and going away and telling their friends about it.”

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