Indoor move success
THE sun may have been shining on Sunday, but unpredictable weather over the past four years meant that organisers of the annual Ballina Food and Wine Festival decided to move the event indoors.
Committee co-ordinator Col Lee said the move upstairs at the Ballina Jockey Club was a huge success.
"Being inside gives it a different atmosphere and it was just unbelievable," Mr Lee said.
The event sold out early in the afternoon, with 26 stalls set up to showcase a diverse range of food from across the region, with wines from across Australia and the world.
Patrons pay $20 at the gate which allows them to sample food from all of the farm gate producers, processors, restaurants and wineries.
"It's about the food and mixing the flavours with the wines to see which go with certain foods," Mr Lee said.
Michelle and Russell Siwicki from Brunswick Heads went as part of a group of 22 from the Mullumbimby Rotary Club and Michelle said being indoors made it more social, with more opportunities to mingle and meet new people.
"It's a fabulous day, with such a wide array of food," she said.
Col Lee said as well as being great value for consumers, it was a great marketing opportunity for sellers.
"The benefit to stallholders is seeing the people that are coming in; seeing what produce they've got; the quality of their food and merchandise. And it's the meeting and greeting; you can't put a price on that. They (the stallholders) are probably seeing more people today than pass through their doors in months."
In previous years music has been a big part of the festivities, but the move indoors meant that part of the festival had to be stripped back. But Michelle Siwicki said the music from the JD Duo was one of the highlights of the day.
Another feature of the event this year was having a range of scotch whiskeys piped in on the bagpipes by Graham Broadhead.
Mr Lee said a survey showed about 60% of patrons had come from the Ballina area, with the remainder coming from across the Northern Rivers region and the Gold Coast.
The Ballina Food and Wine Festival is organised by the Rotary Club of Ballina-on-Richmond with proceeds going Ballina Marine Rescue.