The future of the Moree on a Plate food and wine festival is secure for another few years, thanks to a significant boost from the state government.
The Moree on a Plate committee has received a total of $20,000 from the NSW government’s Regional Flagship Events Fund, which will allow the local festival to expand to encourage more visitors to attend from outside Moree.
“The money is provided to grow and expand Moree on a Plate,” Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said during the funding announcement on Friday.
“This is a huge event.
“We really want to grab people who will come from a long distance and stay in town. Over time, I’d love to see an event like this still attract the locals, but also attract more people from outside the district, to maximise the benefit for other people in the community such as the motels and restaurants.
“The Regional Flagship Events Fund is all about increasing visitation to regional NSW.”
Moree on a Plate committee president Bethany Kelly said this funding is “amazing”, and means they won’t have to rely on sponsorship from local businesses, many of whom are struggling as a result of the drought, to keep the festival afloat this year.
“This money has guaranteed the sustainability of the festival for the next couple of years at least,” she said.
“This year being a tricky drought year, we expect it will be harder to get sponsorship,” publicity officer Georgina Poole added.
“This funding will maintain our sponsorshop so we can continue to hold a festival each year.”
According to figures collected by Tourism Moree, Moree on a Plate attracts the second largest influx of people, behind the Moree Twilight Races, drawing between 4,000 and 5,000 people each year.
Currently, Moree on a Plate attracts more locals than visitors, so the committee hopes to use this state government funding to promote the event outside of the district to bring more visitors to town.
They also want to expand the event into a full weekend of activities, drawing more people in and capitalising on those visitors who travel long distances and stay overnight to come.
“We want to make more use of the Friday night and expand into Sunday, which is Mother’s Day,” Mrs Kelly said.
“We’re looking at doing a Mother’s Day brunch trial this year.
“Tourism [Moree] has told us visitors like to have something on when they come to Moree. People like to come to Moree for a week, and contact Tourism to ask what’s on. This is an event for everyone.”
Mrs Poole said they hope to tap into Tourism Moree’s resources and work with them and other businesses/organisations in town to make Moree on a Plate a full weekend event.
For example, Tourism Moree could run pecan farm tours and local restaurants or cafes could do Moree on a Plate specials.
“We want to coordinate with the community so everyone can have a piece of the pie,” Mrs Poole said.
The Moree on a Plate committee will resume meetings in February with plans for the 2019 festival to ramp up from then.
Their first goal will be to secure stallholders and lock in a celebrity chef/s.
“One of our biggest challenges is getting the volunteers needed to run it,” committee member Marianne Pollock said.
Moree on a Plate 2019 is set to be held on Saturday, May 11.