A few months ago I got an email from the team behind the Felton Food Festival, inviting me to come along and join the fun, food and activities. To be honest, I’d never heard of the festival before, so had no clue what it was about. I jumped online, googled the crap out of it and quickly said yes to the offer. From a glance, it looked like a really fun weekend out in the country.
I’ve gotta say, one thing I really like about my travel blogging life is that I get the chance to go to things I may never have heard of otherwise. There are so many cool festivals, like Felton Food Festival and Mullum Music Festival, that I would never have gone to by myself. It’s great being able to say yes to these opportunities and do things outside of my auto-pilot travel planning range.
What the heck is the Felton Food Festival?
An excellent question, my travel-loving friend! The festival is a one-day celebration of food. It connects the people who love food with those who produce it; hard-working farmers. It’s the ultimate paddock to plate experience, because you get to meet the families who grow the produce and buy direct from them. It gave me a new level of appreciation and respect for the hard-working people behind my lovely plate of food each night.
The story of how the festival started is actually really cool. The locals of Felton were plagued by the mining industry, hell-bent on destroying their beautiful home by installing a rather nasty mine. Unfortunately for the big bad mining company, the locals in Felton are tough and weren’t having it. They banded together, choosing to bring awareness to how special the area is, by showcasing the spectacular fresh produce it provides. The festival was born to celebrate this and connect the people who eat it, with the people who make it. In its first year, the festival received overwhelming support from those who heard the story and they saved the area from mining.
Now, the festival happens annually. It’s hosted on a private farming property in Felton, an area 30 minutes from Toowoomba or 2 hours from the heart of Brisbane. The drive is an easy one, taking you out of the city, past the suburbs and out into our beautiful Australian countryside.
What happens at the festival?
Lots of stuff happens! Simply put, it’s like a country show meets a farmers market. You’ll find loads of stalls selling beautiful fresh, seasonal produce. From beetroots and pumpkins through to leafy greens and potatoes. There are also plenty of stalls selling yummy goods like chocolates, fresh-baked treats and breads, juice, olives, home-made cakes and slices and everything else in between.
There are tents set up for cooking demonstrations, live music and talks by the local farmers, sharing their stories. You’ll also find yourself spoiled with delicious food choices, from fresh damper and billy tea to country BBQ and beyond. I recommend you go with a full wallet, an empty stomach and a few eco-bags ready to fill!
The festival is a great place to learn about the land, farming and exactly what the produce looks like before it gets to our plates. Aside from the obvious things, like veggies, you get to see grains and legumes in their natural state and learn about what happens to them and how they’re used to create other food sources. It doesn’t matter if you’re a little kid or a big one, there’s plenty to learn and a load of fun to be had. Of course being a grown up is better because you can drink.
What’s the best way to take it all in?
We spent the weekend in Toowoomba, driving the short 30 minutes to the festival on the day. I’d recommend making a weekend out of the trip by spending a night or two in Toowoomba. It gives you the chance to spend some time exploring Toowoomba, eating at great cafes and restaurants, discovering the First Coat murals and experiencing life in Southern Queensland Country.
It’s easy to drive out to the festival on the day it happens, just make sure you wake up and get out there early to avoid the crowds. There was a bit of a line-up for parking, but when you keep in mind that all these people are there to support local farmers, it’s not a bad wait at all. The organisers have gone to a lot of trouble to make sure it’s well set-up, thanks to the 200+ volunteers who work their butts off to get everything ready.
Why is it worth going?
As we drove around the area, I saw all the farms growing and harvesting the food that ends up in my fridge each week. It gave me a new level of appreciation for how valuable food is and how lucky we are to have an abundance of gorgeous produce available to is. It also made me feel really guilty for all the times I’ve thrown away food, letting it spoil before I got to use it. When you see how much time and effort goes into growing and harvesting one broccoli, it makes you appreciate it more.
I think it’s worth visiting the festival to reconnect with the people behind the food we eat and regain that understanding that it doesn’t just come from a big supermarket, it comes from a farm. It’s so easy to walk around your supermarket, with its stacks and stacks of fruit and veg and take it for granted, because it’s never-ending. Truth be told, it isn’t.
If the festival sounds like your kind of thing, I’d recommend making a weekend out of it. It’s only 1 1/2 hours to get from Brisbane to Toowoomba, so go out there on a Saturday morning and stay for two nights. Explore the local area, meet the farmers, reconnect with country Queensland and experience a part of our country we often forget about.
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger who believes life should be full of fun and adventure. Phoebe shares practical inspiration to help others enrich their lives through travel. Her fun Vlogs, useful travel guides and beautiful photographs are all aimed at inspiring others to live a life they love and never settle for less.