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Food and wine festival overcomes soggy start

20 Mar 2012

Food and wine festival overcomes soggy start Image

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s riverside opening weekend didn’t go exactly to plan, but organisers are still very buoyant about the results.

The weekend got off to a great start on Friday with the traditional long lunch but spirits were dampened on Saturday when it continually rained throughout the day. Not to be defeated, all the events persisted throughout the downpour and awoke on sunny Sunday triumphant as many events had larger than expected crowds.

Melbourne Food and Wine CEO Natalie O’Brien said the opening weekend really matched well with the location.

“We think the river is the perfect venue. Many of our existing partners we work with are already down there, and it’s a great chance for new partners to emerge,” Ms O’Brien said.

The size of the lower Yarra stretch used for the weekend was also an advantage, with Ms O’Brien saying: “One of the things about the festival is we’re not in one venue with doors or a roof or a gate. We’re all about the adventure.”

She admitted the rain had not been ideal, saying: “It certainly affected numbers, but we redeemed ourselves on the next day with people getting out and about and into the spirit of the weekend.”

“We are very happy with the success of the weekend,” Ms O’Brien concluded.

Yarra River Business Association president John Ahern agreed that the weekend was fantastic and that Southbank was ideal for this kind of event.

“The weekend strongly reinforced awareness among Melburnians that the lower Yarra River is a Mecca for both serious and casual dining, and it probably highlighted its credentials to a whole new generation of foodies,” Mr Ahern said.

Mr Ahern also said a lot was owed to the organisers: “We must congratulate and applaud the huge job done by the festival management and by Peter Jones Events to bring the river alive.”

Although the MFWF has not locked in the river as the long-term location for the Riverside Opening Weekend, it will be held in the same locations next year, and many traders will be hoping for many more years too.

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