Festival smells of sweet success

THE inaugural Meeniyan Garlic Festival held in February attracted more than 7000 people and provided an estimated economic benefit of over $600,000.

The festival was the brainchild of Mirboo garlic farmers Kirsten and David Jones and their daughter Felicity and was hosted by the Meeniyan Tourism and Traders Association.

Mr Jones presented a report on the festival to the South Gippsland Shire Council’s community presentation session last Wednesday.

He said the festival placed a strong focus on the regions high quality food and produce and of the 65 stall holders, more than 45 were South Gippsland based vendors.

The event raised a net profit of over $29,000 which will be used to fund the 2018 festival, with the rest allocated to a community project by the traders association.

Local community run stalls and the Meeniyan Area Community Store raised over $11,000 in sales on the day of the event, and retailers saw a 250 per cent increase in trade.

Many of the festival’s stall vendors received record sales as well.

Mr Jones said the planning for next year’s event is already underway, but the question remained, where to for the festival?

He said due to its popularity it could become a weekend long festival, include events in other South Gippsland towns and provide a real boost to visitation in the area.

“The question is how to build it up and still keep the community interested,” he said.

Councillor Alyson Skinner said Mr Jones was right to be thinking about the future direction of the festival, but cautioned him not to grow it too quickly.

Cr Jeremy Rich said the event was incredibly successful in its first year and there are other groups in the shire that could learn from the garlic festival committee.

Mr Jones said he has 20 years experience in leadership roles and is currently working with the Leongatha Daffodil Festival committee.

Cr McEwen noted there are more people attending events in South Gippsland than events in the Latrobe Valley.

“We have seen anecdotally that the garlic festival created a lot of repeat visitation for the area, which is something to build on,” Mr Jones said.

“That was part of the reason for the festival, to attract people to South Gippsland’s food offerings.”

Tasty aspect: one of the six themes of the inaugural Meeniyan Garlic Festival was cooking shows. Melbourne restaurant Pastuso’s executive chef Alejandro Saravia, left talked the hungry crowd through a few Peruvian inspired dishes, with the help of Richard Cornish, food writer, author and the festival’s garlic champion.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=21247

Posted by on Apr 26 2017. Filed under Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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