Tears as region's huge food and wine festival is cancelled

Published 1:00pm 31 July 2021

Tears as region's huge food and wine festival is cancelled
Words by Nick Crockford

Organisers of the Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival are today “devastated” and “in tears” at having to cancel the event, minutes after opening.

It followed the State Government’s announcement of a lockdown across 11 Local Government Areas (LGA) from 4pm today due to concerns over rising COVID infections.

Several hundred visitors were on the grounds at Woody Point before organisers had to take the heartbreaking decision to close the gates.

The festival site was looking spectacular in the winter sun, all the vendors and contractors were in position for two fabulous days.

In fact, Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival was to have been the biggest and best event of its kind ever seen in this region and South-East Queensland.

Tears as region's huge food and wine festival is cancelled

Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism (MBRIT) Chairman Shane Newcombe says he is “devastated at having to cancel the festival”.

“It’s heartbreaking for the whole team here,” Mr Newcombe says, “people are in tears.

“Everyone was ready - the vendors, hospitality and tourism operators and thousands and thousands of people who had bought tickets.

“It is difficult to put into words how sad it is to see the site empty, especially after having an amazing opening last night.

“Our hearts bleed for everyone connected with the festival and associated businesses and industries at this most difficult of times.”

Mr Newcombe says vendors have lost produce and are doing their best to support each other as they pack up the stalls.

Some are giving each other food, others were just exchanging looks of understanding and encouragement.

“There financial impacts are huge, many are in tears,” Mr Newcombe says, “the tourism and hospitality industry continues to be hit hard and this is an example of the human cost of this virus and keeping each other safe.”

Festival staff are trying to contact ticket holders regarding refunds, but among the messages of support for organisers, are many patrons offering to forgo ticket refunds to support the future of the event.

“The community outpouring of support has been heart-warming … we are trying to think of ways to help support organisers and vendors recoup the tremendous lost costs,” Mr Newcombe says.

Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival has today set-up a page which will be updated on how you can help: https://www.moretonbayfoodandwine.com.au/mbfw-cat/find-out-how-you-can-help

Tears as region's huge food and wine festival is cancelled

Moreton Bay Region Mayor Peter Flannery is urging the State and Federal Governments to help these hard-hit areas of our economy and community.

“We all understand the health imperative, we all understand the urgency with this Delta strain and I trust everyone in our region to do the right thing as requested by the Premier,” Mayor Flannery says.

“There’s a need for State and Federal Governments to support business particularly our tourism and events operators through the devastation of this unpredictable time, as we’re fighting to get back on our feet."

Tears as region's huge food and wine festival is cancelled

“This glorious winter sunshine and perfect conditions in our region are almost rubbing salt in our wounds today, because we should be enjoying the many planned events and experiences," Mayor Flannery says.

“Moreton Bay Regional Council has been one of the most proactive in the country, providing around $40 million in support for local businesses and people doing it tough.

“But we can’t fight this alone, we need governments to do more for local business across our region.”

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