Festival fun boosts local economy

Heather Milley, Helen Tuntar, Sharon Brinkman and Sue Shields enjoyed the Africian food from Helen's Big H African Kitchen at the Swan Hill Food and Wine Festival on Saturday. Picture: PAMELA BLACKMAN

Heather Milley, Helen Tuntar, Sharon Brinkman and Sue Shields enjoyed the Africian food from Helen's Big H African Kitchen at the Swan Hill Food and Wine Festival on Saturday. Picture: PAMELA BLACKMAN

Swan Hill's Pioneer Settlement was packed with locals and visitors alike for this year's Swan Hill Food and Wine Festival.

The main day, held on Saturday, saw about 2000 people flock to the venue to enjoy local food and wine.

Swan Hill Incorporated marketing coordinator Julie Wiggins said the feedback they had received from both stall holders and visitors was "very positive".

"I think we hit around the 2000 people mark, which was a little bit more than last year," Ms Wiggins said.

"People really enjoyed Russell Morris' performance and Matthew Butcher's cooking demonstration went down really well. The grape stomp was also a bit of a buzz."

Ms Wiggins said she thought the festival had an amazing selection and variety of quality food.

"The Prickly Moses bus added an extra unique touch to the event," she said.

"This was also the first time craft beer had been incorporated into the festival."

Huge numbers of tourists flocked to the region for the event, with many staying for the weekend.

"At the moment we predict that the event has put about $400,000 to $500,000 into the local economy," she said.

"It's estimated that people who stayed overnight in town would have spent on average between $150 to $200 a day.

"However it's hard to tell how many people were locals or visitors.

"A lot of hotels were full or close to full, I don't think there was one that wasn't packed."

Quo Vadis' signature event for the festival was sold out and Java Spice did very well.

"The closing night cruise went down great, despite the bit of rain we had on Sunday night," she said.

Festival chairperson Jessica Warburton said it was great to have so many people through the site.

"Crowd numbers were good and people looked like they were having a great time," Ms Warburton said.

To read more about this story, grab a copy of Wednesday's Guardian (March 15).

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