25 years of Festivale

For its first seven years Launceston’s popular food and wine event Festivale was held in the city’s business district as a big street party.

Then it moved to historic City Park and will celebrate its 25th birthday in a venue most patrons agree is just about ideal.

Organising committee chairwoman Lou Clark said that making the move to City Park had been the making of Festivale.

“The focus of the event shifted to showcasing Tasmania’s renowned food and cool-climate wines,” Ms Clark said.

“This meant we had to move it out of the CBD to a more controlled space.

“In this day of social media we get a lot feedback and people talk about the great ambience and atmosphere in City Park.”

Charging an entry fee was a controversial issue with the move to City Park but had helped ensure the event’s financial viability and its reputation as an event for everyone.

“One of the things the committee has done is to work pretty hard to ensure that we have a safe and family-friendly event,” Ms Clark said.

Festivale has it origins in a multi-cultural food and social event organised by Paulene Gaetani at the Australian-Italian Club at Prospect in 1987 and probably also drew some inspiration from the Launceston Mardi Gras of the 1950s and ’60s that featured music, street theatre and parades.

The first mardi gras in 1953 was organised by the Launceston Junior Chamber of Commerce as part of celebrations for the centenary of municipal government in Tasmania.

The first Festivale in 1988 was organised as part of Australia’s bicentenary celebrations and the combination of food and drink and entertainment proved a hit.

Bruce England, who has served on the Festivale committee for 25 years (with five as chairman), was a member of the bicentenary committee.

The inaugural Festivale was so well received that it became an annual event organised by a hard-working committee of volunteers.

It is still run by volunteers who have also taken on the organisation of Launceston’s annual New Year’s Eve function in Royal Park.

“The turnover on the committee has been relatively low over the years,” Ms Clark said.

“People tend to stay on it for quite a long time, but there’s still been a lot of people involved over the years.”

As well as providing great entertainment and showcasing Tasmania’s best food, wine and beer, Festivale is important to the tourism industry.

Last year more than 35,000 people attended the three days of the event, which costs around $700,000 to stage.

The demographic is wide, from young families to retirees and everyone in between.

An annual survey of patrons, conducted by year 12 students from Scotch Oakburn College, found that more than 1000 attendees last year were from overseas and nearly 3000 were from interstate.

“Festivale has a strong and loyal following of patrons,” Ms Clark said.

“Our 2012 survey indicated that 69 per cent of patrons chose some form of commercial accommodation to stay in throughout the weekend of Festivale, with 19 per cent of patrons staying three nights or more and 14 per cent staying for two nights in commercial accommodation.”

And the 2012 survey found that 77 per cent of patrons strongly agreed they would attend future events.

“Festivale rates as one of the best food and wine festivals in Australia,” she said.

“In culinary terms I think we’ve got the recipe pretty right.”


WHAT: Festivale.

WHERE: City Park, Launceston.

WHEN: Friday, 5.30pm to 10.45pm; Saturday, 11am to 10.45pm; Sunday, 10am to 4pm.

COST: Friday night $20, Saturday $20, Sunday $15. Children under 14 free if accompanied by an adult.

TICKETS: Launceston Travel and Information Centre or at the gate.

More information: www.festivale苏州美睫培训.au.

Some of crowd at Festivale held in the streets of Launceston in 1991. The food and wine spectacular will celebrate 25 years this weekend.

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