The sun was out and so were the people, enjoying the culinary delights and visual pleasures of the Hampton High Country Food & Arts Festival.
With an attendance of over 4500 people and a warm sunny Sunday, the 17th of May turned out to be all the festival organisers and stall holders had hoped for and more.
Bede Mackenzie, stall holder selling Hampton Avocado Oil, was very pleased with the day saying, “Fantastic festival; great crowds, great weather, great organisation. Well done to all your organisers and the local community.”
The official start to the weekend was the Saturday evening Art Exhibition. Music, wine, canapés and a new art tent provided the ideal setting to appreciate the talent of artists who live within a 50 km radius of Hampton. Judge Allan Bruce, president of the Toowoomba Art Society, praised the quality of work exhibited and presented first prize to Damien Kamholz for his pencil drawing ‘Birds Over Kata Tjuta’.
Resoundingly it is the food that people come for on festival day and from post festival feedback it seems that the crowds were not disappointed. The range on offer this year included traditional sourdough breads, organic beef sausages, just-pressed olive oil, wood fired pizzas, delectable sweets and plenty more to satisfy all tastes.
It was standing room only in front of the Chef’s Tent with enthusiastic Sunshine Coast chef Matt Golinksi making Moroccan Preserved Lemons and Muffolata – a delicious Italian bread stuffed with roast veges, cheese and smallgoods. Many people taste-tested Matt’s dishes and were most impressed with the combination of unique flavours. His recipes are now available on the Hampton Festival website.
The variety of musical entertainment was fantastic, the kids had a ball building the cardboard box kingdom and the stilt walkers added a great carnival atmosphere.
The annual Hampton High Country Food & Arts Festival is realised through the hard work of a volunteer committee of local residents, artists, growers and producers. Their commitment to presenting a quality festival which highlights the diversity of the produce grown and the artistic talent of the region has resulted in an event which is now recognised as one of the best in the state.
Debra Howe, Manager of the Toowoomba Regional Council’s Tourism and Events Branch offered her comments after the festival, “Congratulations to the organising committee and volunteers for delivering an outstanding event over the weekend. I think the site layout and setup, organisation and product delivered was very professional and ensured the day was a huge success. The quality of stallholders and restaurants was amazing.”
As ever the support of the local community is integral to the festival’s success. Over 80 volunteers assisted in a variety of ways such as putting up tents and fencing, catering for the art opening, working in the bar or emptying bins and cleaning toilets.
Volunteer Coordinator Lynda Georgeson praised the help of this volunteer workforce, “It is their assistance which is the back bone of the festival and without it we could not stage our event”.
Local businesses contributed with donations of essential supplies such as fuel, ingredients for cooking demonstrations and rubbish removal services. The assistance of the Toowoomba Regional Council’s Crows Nest District Service Centre is also greatly valued by festival organisers. Parks and Garden’s staff assisted with preparing the grounds, Administration staff assisted with printing of programs while Water Services staff assisted with water-wise signage and recycling options.
While the event is over for this year, now is the time for the committee to assess the 2009 event and get their heads together to begin preparations for a bigger and better festival for 2010.
Kerri Seccombe, Hampton Visitor Information Centre