OLD-FASHIONED FAMILY FUN: The Dent family enjoying the Gayndah Heritage Railway Picnic during Heartland Festival.
OLD-FASHIONED FAMILY FUN: The Dent family enjoying the Gayndah Heritage Railway Picnic during Heartland Festival. Felicity Ripper

Visitors travel to rural heartland for festival

AS ONE of Queensland's largest agriculture sectors, it's no wonder thousands were drawn to the North Burnett for the opportunity to taste all the produce the region has to offer.

Despite two events being cancelled just weeks out due to a lack of ticket sales, Heartland Festival president Renee McGilvery said she was impressed with event numbers and the weekend ran smoothly.

Kicking off Heartland on Friday night, more than 100 guests attended Gayndah Art Gallery's event Sip, Savour and Sparkle.

The family picnic saw 25 baskets of produce enjoyed by families, Eat Street at the Old Tin Shed had 155 guests, and about 3000 visitors walked through the gates of Heartland Festival Market Day.

"I found more people from further afield are finding out about Heartland,” Ms McGilvery said.

"People from cities want to come to little towns like ours and meet the farmers who grow their food, it's all about being a food destination.”

Ms McGilvery said her favourite event was Market Day and she enjoyed hearing the stall holders tell her that they had a successful day.

"One stall holder told me she had visitors from Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Hervey Bay and Maryborough.

"She has a Maryborough- based business and none of her customers from Maryborough knew she existed but they found her in Gayndah.

"That's the aim of the game, to promote local products and let people know what local businesses exist.”

Ms McGilvery said she wanted to continue to showcase the North Burnett in the years to come and, in order to avoid the clash with Bundaberg's Winterfeast that was experienced this year, a new date in spring may be on the cards.

"I just hope, in future years, that I can get the other towns of the North Burnett to be as passionate about Heartland as Gayndah has been, that's the dream,” Ms McGilvery said.

"I would love to have events in every one of our towns over Heartland.”

In previous years the Heartland Festival Market Day was held at the showgrounds but this year the event was moved to Gayndah State School, and Ms McGilvery said that was where it would stay in the future.

"I loved the new venue, it's much prettier and there's more natural shade which means less work in setting up tents,” she said.

Ms McGilvery said the committee was still new to planning such a big event but members were learning every year.

"Hopefully we will grow every year because we are paying attention to what has and hasn't worked and we'll improve on the things we know do work,” she said.


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