Whether you’re a foodie, or are just up for some flavourful fun, there’s something for everyone at the upcoming Flavours of Plenty Festival, taking place from April 7 to April 10.
Celebrating the Bay of Plenty’s plentiful produce, the festival will see a host of events ready to delight with deliciousness; from workshops and demonstrations, to degustations and themed in-house menus.
There are 19 events showcasing our region’s produce, including a Mediterranean Escape (in the Western Bay of Plenty), a Plant-based Kings Feast Luncheon at Sugo, the Mount Eliza Cheese Rolling Competition, and a hāngī with celebrity chefs Kārena and Kasey Bird.
As the Coastal Bay of Plenty’s inaugural regional food festival, festival organiser Rae Baker says the overarching aim of the event is to celebrate our regional food story.
“There are other objectives that come under this - including showcasing the amazing restaurants, event providers and producers we have, encouraging our communities to engage with our food story and to attract domestic visitation to the Bay through our food story.
“We have some incredible people doing amazing things here, and we feel it’s about time we celebrated what we produce in the Coastal Bay of Plenty.”
Baker notes that the festival will bring a host of benefits to the region.
“The festival is a great platform for our everyday producers to be recognised for the amazing things they do – within our region it will profile and celebrate the existing talents we have.
“Along with the power of Tourism Bay of Plenty’s marketing, we hope the festival drives visitation to the region which will convert to a tangible economic boost to our place. The festival adds another string to the Bay’s bow – food being another reason to visit our beautiful spot in the world.”
Spanning from Waihī Beach to Ōhope, the festival also features the Flavours of Plenty Produce Box, an exciting region-wide competition.
“Ten of our regional producers have pulled together to create a ‘produce box’ that is being sent to eateries that have signed up to be part of the competition. The produce box contains produce from the likes of Solomons Gold chocolate, Harbourside Macadamias, Mata Brewery, Webster’s Tea, Heilala Vanilla, The Snag Co and more,” says Baker.
“Each eatery will come up with a menu item – either a dish or a cocktail – which will feature all or some of the elements in the produce box, and this menu item will be available for the duration of the four-day festival.
“The competition has two prizes up for grabs – one being a people’s choice, where anyone can vote for their favourite dish, and the other being a judge’s favourite. We can’t wait to see what they come up with.”
Baker says the future looks bright for the festival.
“We’d love to see the festival grow year after year, with more event partners getting involved, more producers to highlight, more restaurants to attend.
“We’d love to build upon our ‘produce box’ restaurant competition and start opening up employment opportunities. This is the beginning of something that really has the ability to grow and benefit everyone it touches.”
The festival is a Tourism Bay of Plenty initiative, inspired by feedback from the local food industry.
“We ran a survey with local foodies and the results suggested that 68% of people wanted a festival that focused on locally grown food and beverage, and 86% of people wanted to see more local food in eateries,” says Tourism Bay of Plenty Senior Marketing Executive Suzy Spear.
“The results showed that our foodie community was siloed, and local food experiences weren’t connected. The survey also revealed that other notable food destinations around the country were already offering food festivals to showcase their gastronomical provenance.
“We felt the time was right to change that, to add the Bay of Plenty to the foodie destination map. We decided to hold the festival in April as we wanted to drive visitation and spending during the shoulder season, and we also wanted to hold the festival whilst a lot of our produce is still in season and while it’s still warm enough to hold events outdoors.”
The festival is supported by TECT funding of $30,000, something Baker says is hugely important.
“In fact, the meaning of this funding is wider than the much-needed cash injection. Having the support of TECT, its belief in the festival project and opportunity for collaboration, is hugely appreciated.”
TECT Chairperson Bill Holland says the event is something the local trust hadn’t seen before in funding applications.
“This is something new for our region, and sorely needed, to showcase and celebrate our bountiful and innovative horticultural industry.
“It is also a fantastic way to bring people together to connect over their love of food, and to educate locals and visitors alike about everything our region has to offer. We’re delighted to see the festival come to our region soon, and are pleased our funding can help bring it to life.”
To view the festival’s programme of events, visit https://flavoursofplentyfestival.com/events.