Swan Hill Region Food & Wine Festival 2016

After attending last year’s Swan Hill Region Food and Wine Festival day at Pioneer Settlement, loving it and vowing to return every subsequent year, I only had two complaints. It needed more toilets and more food stalls. 2016’s festival addressed those two issues, having many more food stalls and an additional supply of portaloos. This year I attended under the guise of celebrating a friend’s birthday. So we were going to have a great time regardless. Whilst I can’t specify the reasons why other people attended (I’m assuming the wine and food may have played a part), I don’t doubt that they too were treated to yet another great festival day.

We here at 3585livestayplay don’t have access to the official attendance numbers. But talking with a volunteer, he did admit that by roughly 2pm the attendance was down for that time of day compared to last year, but thought it would creep up as the headliners came on at 2:30pm. Unfortunately for the organisers and stall holders, I don’t think that ended up happening,  yet I’m pretty confident to declare that the attendance was probably down due to the heat rather than the quality of what was on offer.

Crowd participation was heavily encouraged during the Chocolate Starfish set
IMG_7461 Crowd participation was heavily encouraged during the Chocolate Starfish set


Whilst the numbers at the stage weren't high, audience members were treated to quite the show
Whilst the numbers at the stage weren’t high, audience members were treated to quite the show


After moving our chairs and rug seven times in an effort to hide from the sun, we gave up and dealt with the consequences (sweat moustaches, make up disappearing and boob sweat). We just had to accept that it was going to be hot whether we were sitting under the shade of the trees at the Lower Murray Inn stage or in the direct sunlight. But the heat we were feeling was not even comparable to the heat radiating off the lead singer Adam Thompson of headliners “Chocolate Starfish”. A quick scan of their biography on the band’s website, describes exactly what the audience at the Food and Wine Festival got to experience, “a crazed aerobics session”. I’ll be the first to admit it took me a while to warm to his enthusiasm and antics, yet I wasn’t the only one. One friend sarcastically quipped that she wished she could get her hands onto whatever he was drinking whilst another one simply said, “He’s creepy”. But perhaps we were all missing the point. Thompson is an entertainer and knows how to put on one hell of a show for those that love a bit of theatrics. Which not many rock bands are capable of doing these days. So full credit to him for his multiple entries in to the crowd to sing and dance with audience members. A number of covers were played, including the one that made them famous “You’re So Vain” as well as a Meatloaf track or two, which was accompanied by the self-promotion of their upcoming November ‘Bat out of Hell’ Tour at the Sound Shell in Swan Hill (you’re welcome).

Aerobics with Chocolate Starfish lead singer, Adam Thompson
Aerobics with Chocolate Starfish lead singer, Adam Thompson

Apart from the entertainment on stage, there was plenty happening around the grounds of Pioneer Settlement. The grape stomping challenge was hotly contested and the wine tasting tables were constantly busy with people needing to rehydrate. They were all kept entertained by local act The Drowning Sorrows (who are playing their next Swan Hill gig on Good Friday at the Swan Hill Club. Yes, you’re welcome too). The food stalls included a number of local businesses creating special menus for the day (including Swan Hill favourites Quo Vardis, Niko Niko and Boo’s Place which was my pick for lunch) as well as plenty of treats for the kids (and adults alike) with Jilarty Ice Cream, hot donuts and snow cones seen in many a pair of hands.

Had the weather gods been a little kinder and blessed the organisers with a day just 5 degrees cooler, I don’t doubt that the attendance numbers would have been much higher than they were. But I hope they keep the extra portaloos and food stalls for next year. Because I’ll be back next year regardless of the weather.


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