There may be some fuller bellies and lighter wallets after Saturday but all who attended Moree on a Plate left satisfied following another highly successful event.
More than 4,000 people went through the gates of Moree Secondary College on Saturday to sample some of the region’s finest and freshest produce.
From homemade chocolates and icecream to cherries and garlic, salami and trout to gin and wine – there was something to suit all tastes amongst the 50 stallholders who attended the festival.
Celebrity chef Ben O’Donoghue was a hit with the crowd, as the seasoned chef lifted the lid on some of the simplest but most delicious haute cuisine.
O’Donoghue prepared trout and maple syrup-drizzled sweet potatoes on a Weber barbecue, with most ingredients sourced from the Moree on a Plate producers.
“We had really positive feedback from Ben O’Donoghue; he commented on what a professional event we run and the quality of producers – it wasn’t what he was expecting,” Moree on a Plate president Bethany Kelly said.
“Ben was good at incorportating local producers – he has his own recipes but he adapted them on the day and subsituted things with what people can support locally.”
Another popular feature of this year’s festival was George the Farmer, who had all the children up and dancing during his performances which comprised of a book reading session, dance and sing-along.
“The kids absolutely loved him,” Mrs Kelly said.
“He was really interactive which was good.”
The Blokes on the BBQ Challenge was again a crowd favourite, with Alistair Spring and Paul Osborn taking out top honours.
Mrs Kelly said the new, earlier time for the cook-off proved to be a success, with people staying around to enjoy lunch afterwards, as opposed to previous years when most people went home after the challenge.
“The change of time definitely worked,” she said.
“We had a really solid crowd all day which was better for the producers. It was busy all day and that made the difference; in the past we had a peak period of two hours where everyone was there at the same time.
“The longer people stay, the more they buy.”
The Landcare Kids Korner was also kept busy throughout the day.
While the Blokes on the BBQ Challenge and George the Farmer were big attractions, Mrs Kelly said the highlight was definitely the producers.
“I think people come because of the quality of the produce available,” she said.
“At the end of the day, if we don’t have the calibre of produce available and producers who support us every year, we wouldn’t have a festival.
“The most important thing is the producers and selling their products.
“There was a real range and lots for people to eat on the day and to take away.”
Mrs Kelly said the committee have received lots of positive feedback from all of their producers, many of whom sold out of products on the day.
“The guy selling alcohol ginger beer said he brought more produce than he thought he could ever sell, but he’d sold out by 2pm,” she said.
“That is a sign of success.”