The countdown is on with Stanthorpe set to roll out a green welcome to its biennial Apple & Grape Harvest Festival, which begins tomorrow, Friday 28 February and continues through to Sunday 8 March.
The picking of apples and grapes is already underway and Stanthorpe has even more reason to celebrate, since the countryside transformed back to a carpet of green on the back of above average rainfall in recent weeks.
Festival President Max Hunter said the recent rain has been a “game changer” for Stanthorpe.
“The deluge of rainfall that came in January and February has seen a transformation in not only our landscape but also the spirits in our community,” Max said.
“With many dams now filled with water, the local farmers and grape growers who are the centre of our harvest festival, now too will have more reason to enjoy the celebrations.
“It’s only held once every two years and this year’s festival is tipped to be as big a celebration as seen since the festival first started ‘crushing it’ in 1966, with organisers inviting visitors to ‘Holiday Here This Year’ on a trip to Stanthorpe in Queensland’s cool Granite Belt.
Queensland Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the Queensland Government supports regional events because they boost regional jobs.
“Events like this attract visitors which boosts the region – and we know that people who visit our regions are the best advocates for regional tourism destinations,” Ms Jones said.
“The Queensland Government supports events like the Stanthorpe Apple and Grape Festival because they provide a platform to showcase our destinations and draw people to Queensland.”
Known for its messy grape-stomping antics, the 2020 festival program delivers all the favourite harvest events – the fun of grape crushing, a hotly-contested apple peeling competition, plus a longer three-day Heritage Bank Food and Wine Fiesta from Friday 6 to Sunday 8 March.
The Food and Wine Fiesta brings together the Granite Belt’s gourmet foods, award-winning wines and craft beer all to one location under the shady trees and picnic tables, all to the tunes of non-stop live entertainment.
Delivering even bigger this year on what has always been a family-friendly festival, there’s much excitement about a new Kids Zone adjoining the Heritage Bank Food and Wine Fiesta, located right next door within Weeroona Park, with thanks to new support from Woolworths and the Foundation for Regional Renewal in Partnership with the Australian Government.
Festival entertainment and the party-filled atmosphere will spill out into the streets, on the big finale weekend from Friday 6 to Sunday 8 March. Crowds will gather for the Channel 7 Grand Parade and the Rebel Breeze FM Street Carnival, which will bring Australia’s #1 whip cracking entertainer, Nathan ‘Whippy’ Griggs’ and an explosive paint and light show to the streets with SoundStruck Percussion drumming.
A big line-up of live bands and an eclectic mix of buskers will fill the air through the finale weekend, though the most impressive musical spectacle belongs to the gathering of hundreds who will gather in brass bands, pipe bands and thunderous marching drum bands who hit the streets en-masse after the street parade next Saturday 7 March.
This first weekend of the festival sees the staging of the South East Queensland Finals of the Australian National Busking Championships take over Stanthorpe’s CBD this Saturday 29 February, with a higher than average number of buskers indicating it’s going to be a vibrant day to stroll the streets of Stanthorpe.
Also on the first weekend, ‘That Dam Ride’ cycling event will draw cycling enthusiasts and novices alike for a ride this Sunday 1 March, which promises to be a picturesque route through the newly greened Granite Belt countryside.
The festivities run over 10 days including two fun-filled weekends of entertainment.
The first weekend, Friday 28 February – Sunday 1 March…
• Friday 28 February – Ergon Energy Street Party, the Turning On the Festival Lights
• Saturday 29 February – The National Busking Championships South East Qld Final will fill the streets with music; Apple and Grape Cup golf day
• Sunday 1 March: ‘That Dam Ride’ cycle event; ‘Banchetto Italiano’ Italian Long Lunch (sold out).
• Thursday 5 March – Apple Day: including apple pie baking and apple jelly making competitions, apple cooking demonstrations, pairing local wines apple dishes, and the hotly contested Longest Apple Peel competition.
THE SECOND WEEKEND (‘THE BIG ONE’) – FRIDAY 6 – SUNDAY 8 MARCH…
Friday 6 – Sunday 8 March…
• Three days of food, wine and entertainment at the Heritage Bank Food & Wine Fiesta
• Saturday 7 March – Channel 7 Grand Parade; the very messy Queensland Grape Crush Championship!; Southern Downs Steam Warwick to Wallangarra steam train journey.
If you do one festival this year, make it the food, wine and fabulous fun of Stanthorpe’s Apple & Grape Harvest Festival!
For program and ticket information visit www.appleandgrape.org