NO HARVEST PICNIC FOR 2014
After 25 years of celebrating the Harvest Picnic, it is sadly time to call it a day.
The Harvest Picnic at Hanging Rock will not be held in 2014.
The Harvest Picnic was created by Stephanie Alexander as a focus for 1988’s Bicentennial Celebrations. The format changed over time to include more entertainment, and cooking demonstrations, and we’ve now been promoting regional food, wine and entertainment in a relaxed family-friendly way through the Harvest Picnic for 25 years. Developed as a festival to celebrate quality produce, it welcomed small-scale producers to the market and it became quite a fixture on the calendar for food-lovers.
So, why is the picnic winding up? Well, times have changed. Victoria’s events calendar is now rich with food festivals, weekly and monthly farmers’ markets and many sophisticated food and wine events and master classes. Sponsorship is a difficult market to crack too. This year, we said a sad goodbye to The Age, our long-standing naming rights partner. In this difficult and challenging economic environment, we have not been able to fill this significant gap, and it signaled the end of the Harvest Picnic. We won’t wind up the business immediately – the plan is to leave it ‘on the shelf’ for 18 months, and see if any opportunities present themselves over that time. We are set up as a not-for-profit organisation, and have the staff, database, contacts and infrastructure ready to go should something arise. The only (somewhat vital!) thing missing at this stage is the funding.
We’ve had the privilege of loyal support from so many partners over our years of operation. We’d like to take the opportunity to thank all who have been involved including The Age, Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Tourism Victoria, Neff, Parks Victoria, Wyndham City Council, and KitchenAid too. We’ve also worked with a number of exceptional volunteer organisations, in particular, Rotary and the CFA.
The ongoing popularity of the picnic was due to the enthusiasm of our innovative and exceptional exhibitors. Some of our exhibitors have been with us from the beginning, and there are those who have just joined our team. Working closely with passionate exhibitors, seeing them grow and develop from one picnic to the next, watching many enjoy great success and some breaking into the export market has been incredibly rewarding.
Each year, a whole tribe of visitors would embark upon their big day at the picnic. We’d stand in wonder as we watched visitors roll up with wheelbarrows brimming with chairs, umbrellas, tables, even the odd vase of flowers! Everything they needed to make themselves a home away from home at Hanging Rock.
I’d like to thank all of the board members too, past and present, for all of the energy, ideas and effort they put in to the Harvest Picnic. The current board members are Danielle Cameron, Jim Irwin, George McMaster, and Michelle Potts. Previous members include Rita Erlich, Katie Batzias, Don Larkin, Paris Singer, Jennifer Burwood, Robyn Aumann, and many more from the earlier years. Gail Thomas, while not a board member, deserves a special mention. After being on the organising committee for the first few years, she did not miss one Harvest Picnic, and often sent interesting new exhibitors our way.
My colleague Kate Dema was so delightful to work with, and I wish her well in the future. I’ll also miss dealing with the many suppliers who worked hard to make the picnic a success too. The team who worked at each event were wonderful; Robert Cudmore, Arni Sleeman, Jo Richardson, Julianne Hearn, Gabriele Spiering, Guido Bigolin, Patricia and Mark from Excel Events, Olivia Spalding – all so reliable and just knew what to do.
On a personal note, I have thoroughly enjoyed my last 15 years, pulling together all the different facets of the Harvest Picnic, and February just won’t be the same anymore! I have made many friends through my work at the Harvest Picnic Foundation, and I hope that our paths will cross again.
Kirsty Hunt I Executive Officer I Harvest Picnic Foundation
0419 525 796