Numbers strong at 2019 Moree on a Plate despite tough season and cold weather

The chilly weather wasn't enough to deter thousands of people from flocking through the gates of Moree Secondary College on Saturday to taste some of the best produce the region has to offer at the 2019 Moree on a Plate.

About 5,000 people attended this year's food and wine festival, which president Bethany Kelly said was amazing considering the region is struggling with the ongoing drought.

"Considering the season, with the drought, and the cold weather, we were absolutely blown away by the success," she said.

"Numbers were consistent, if not more, than previous years which is great.

"We were worried the cold weather might deter people but if the weather was a deterrent for locals, it was certainly made up for by a boost in visitors. A lot of people came to town for it.

"We were thrilled with how it went."


The heart of the festival, the producers, were also thrilled with the day according to Mrs Kelly, who said many weren't expecting a great day sales-wise.

"The producers themselves said they weren't expecting a good day, but so many have said they've had the best day ever," she said.

"Pally Pecans, The Big Salami said it was one of their best. Fe Fi Fo Patisserie sold out early. GFree Donuts had a 20-deep line-up all day. Mak's Turkish Gozleme would have had a similar 20-deep line. They were new this year from Armidale. Leonella Pasta also had a huge line throughout the day. They're new from Coffs Harbour.

"It exceeded their expectations."

The Blokes on the BBQ Challenge was as popular as ever, with a large crowd watching on as four teams - Jordan Hunt and Zeb Chapman, Rhodes Kildea's Alastair Spring and Paul Osborn, Auscott Au Naturale Greg Cumberland and Ben Jackman and late additions Tom Boyle and Sean Young (South Moree Butchery were scratched at the last minute) - battled it out on the barbie.

Reigning champions Alistair Spring and Paul Osborn proved too strong, taking out the title, and the Weber, for the second year in a row with their quality cut of beef and jalapeno poppers, while competition newcomers Jordan Hunt and Zeb Chapman won the people's choice award.

This year instead of a celebrity chef, three local cooks - Daisy Nguyen, Di Haddad and Catherine Madden - shared their tips and tricks in a number of interactive and relaxed cooking demonstrations, as part of this year's look local theme.

Mrs Kelly believes these simultaneous demonstrations were just as popular, if not more so, than the celebrity chef.

"It was great having that interactive, more personal local demonstration," she said.

"There was a lot of taste testing and practical skills you can take home and use in the kitchen."

Bubble Muffin was also a hit with the younger festival-goers in the Kids Korner, and also stepped in as one of the Blokes on the BBQ judges, along with Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton and Sophie O'Neill.

Mrs Kelly said the committee were thrilled to see so many visitors attend this year's festival and credits the boost to their strong marketing campaign outside of Moree.

She said it also helped having a number of other events happening in town to complement the festival, so visitors could make a weekend of it.

"It was a really busy weekend in Moree," Mrs Kelly said.

"There was something for everyone. A lot of people brought family and friends here for the weekend. It was a great weekend to showcase everything we have on offer."