Our say | Food for thought to grow the winter festival

WITH the Bathurst Winter Festival over for another year, thoughts will soon turn to planning next year’s event.

The festival has come a long way since its introduction in 2015 but organisers will want to see it continuing to grow.

The ice rink, a highlight of the very first festival, has been expanded each year since and is probably the single biggest drawcard over the two-week period.

But also increasingly important are the night-time festivals that draw people in their thousands to Kings Parade and Machattie Park and much of the planning for next year’s festival will no doubt centre on making the most of those events.

Long queues at the Brew & Bite, in particular, must be addressed over the next 12 months.

But just how best to do that is not yet clear.

One challenge for the organisers will be finding ways to make taking part in Brew & Bite more attractive to local food outlets.

Most takeaways and restaurants around the CBD recorded bumper trading last Saturday night as a result of the thousands of people in town without having to go to the inconvenience of being part of the festival themselves.

Of course, it is far easier for the locals to remain in their own shops and wait for the customers to come rather than take their whole operation to Kings Parade.

That makes good business sense but it does leave Brew & Bite lacking a bit of a local feel.

The other question will be just where do organisers wish to pitch Brew & Bite?

A sausage sizzle in Machattie Park run by the Lions Club of Bathurst Macquarie last week was a quick and popular option for young families but is not necessarily what Brew & Bite is supposed to be.

If this festival is to showcase quality local food and beverages then sausage sizzles are not quite the right fit.

But if the festival’s focus is on providing a family-friendly event then more barbecues across the two park areas might be the perfect answer.

Wherever we go from here, though, one truth remains clear: the Bathurst Winter Festival is a winning idea and must continue to attract support from council and the community.

It’s come a long way in just three years and will only get better from here.

Get on board – it’s going to be a great journey for all of us.