Calling all food-lovers to Launceston's City Park for Festivale

Northern Tasmania’s premier summer event, Festivale, is a celebration of the finest produce and gastronomical delights that the state has to offer.

The annual three-day celebration aims to present the beautiful foods and beverages that are crafted by restaurants, vineyards, and distilleries statewide.

The backdrop to the event is Launceston’s historic City Park, which has helped make the event iconic due to the ambiance and atmosphere it provides.

Festivale attracts around 35,000 patrons to Launceston each year.

Many patrons are Tasmanians, but Festivale also attracts people from other states in Australia, and from other countries, to experience.

Tasmania is like a unique food bank … patrons can come and really taste the best of the best that the state has to offer - Festivale chairman David Dunn

Chairman David Dunn said patrons come to Festivale to taste the “best of the best” of Tasmanian food and wine.

“We’ve got such a high focus on Tasmanian produce, and on the quality of items that stalls are serving,” Mr Dunn said.

“Tasmania is like a unique food bank … patrons can come and really taste the best of the best that the state has to offer. We’ve got 14 new stallholders this year, and 90 stallholders all up,” he said.

Well-known Tasmanian businesses such as Jansz, Ashgrove Dairy, Josef Chromy, Boag’s, and Willie Smith’s Cider will be re-appearing at Festivale in 2017.

Clover Hill Wines chief executive Adam Torpy at their new cellar door at Lebrina. Picture: Scott Gelston

Clover Hill Wines chief executive Adam Torpy at their new cellar door at Lebrina. Picture: Scott Gelston

Another stall re-emerging this year is Lebrina vineyard Clover Hill.

Having just won an award for Best Wine for their Tasmanian Cuvée Rosé at The Taste of Tasmania, cellar door manager Ian White said Clover Hill are looking forward to bringing it to Festivale.

“We haven’t been there [at Festivale] for the past few years … we pulled back a bit due to the build of the new cellar door,” Mr White said. “But we’ve still had a presence in the region; we’ve been established since 1986.”

“Festivale is an intimate event. The thing about Festivale that makes it really nice is the park and garden setting,” he said.

Mr White said Festivale can be quite a social event for stall holders.

“It’s a really good opportunity to catch up with people in the industry that you might not have seen for months,” he said.

Festivale newcomers the Good Food Float are preparing for their first time as stallholders.

The Good Food Float is a vegetarian and vegan-friendly, ethically sourced and sustainable stall that runs out of a converted 1982 Tasmanian hardwood timber horse-float. 

Manager Christine Chandler said they are excited to be involved with Festivale, especially since the float had only been in operation for around a year.

“I’m very excited actually, especially being such a small business. I can’t believe it’s happening,” Ms Chandler said.

“A lot of people have tried our food and haven’t realised we’re plant-based and really enjoyed it. Being a vegan, it’s something I’m really passionate about.

“There aren’t many options available for vegans … and we get a lot of people with allergies that can come and confidently eat with us.”

Ms Chandler said their food is often inspired by seasonal produce.

“I try my best to support local businesses … I gather my produce at the Harvest Market,” she said.

“We change our menu for every event,” she said. “The main item we’ll probably have [at Festivale] is a harvest plate, with dips, pickled veggies, bread and stuff like that.

“We’ll have some home-baked sweets as well.”

In terms of entertainment and layout, Mr Dunn said that Festivale has been “shaken up” this year.

“One of the major differences this year is that we’ve extended Cooking in the Park to two days. We’ve also moved it into City Park,” he said.

“Having it out in the park makes it more inclusive … people can walk past and stop to watch.”

The Cooking in the Park demonstrations are set to feature some of the best chefs in Tasmania’s North.

Chefs such as Chris Williams of Cataract on Paterson, Nathan Johnston of Hazelbrae House, Craig Will from Stillwater and Black Cow, and Christopher Wright from the Country Club’s Terrace Restaurant will be cooking up a storm with the best fresh Tasmanian produce they can get their hands on.

Festivale’s guest chef for 2018, Karen Martini of Better Homes and Gardens, will also be demonstrating her cooking prowess to the patrons of Festivale on the Sunday.

“After a lot of requests, we’ve also added gin and whiskey masterclasses to the program,” Mr Dunn said.

The Tamar Valley Wine Route Masterclasses will allow patrons to experience the best Tasmanian sparkling wines, beers, and spirits whilst learning from industry professionals such as brewers, distillers, and winemakers.

“Tasmania produces high-quality gin and whiskey, and people really want to learn more about it.”

Mr Dunn said he’s “very excited” about the entertainment line-up.

“All of the acts are going to appeal to different people each night … there’s going to be something for all age brackets,” he said.

Some of the “not-to-be-missed” entertainment includes Medhanit Barratt, Fresh Comedy, the Best Stall Awards, and the roaming street performers.

“We’ve got a big focus on street performers, and people wandering around doing little shows,” Mr Dunn said.

“We like to keep people entertained.”

The Kids Kingdom declares fun for all, with activities such as face painting, karate, bowling, and music and dance workshops lined up to keep the kids entertained. 

Mr Dunn said that Festivale’s music program will have something to suit everyone’s tastes.

Artists such as Clare Bowditch, JR Reyne and The Paradise Three, Reece Mastin, and Renée Geyer will perform for patrons over the course of the three-day event.

For those living in the Devonport region, this year Festivale is trialling a Merseylink bus service to the event on Saturday, with the bus departing Devonport at 2pm and leaving Festivale at 11.15pm. 

The $40 fee includes the return bus trip plus admission to the event and can be booked through Merseylink.

Admission to Festivale ranges between $15 to $25 for adults depending on the day, with a three-day pass costing $45. 

For more information about admission prices and to book Tamar Valley Wine Route Masterclasses, head online to www.festivale.com.au.

Festivale will take place February 2 to 4. 

The story Calling all food-lovers to Launceston's City Park for Festivale first appeared on The Examiner.

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