Anne Todd with beautiful beetroot at the Felton Food Festival.  Sunday Mar 26, 2017.
Anne Todd with beautiful beetroot at the Felton Food Festival. Sunday Mar 26, 2017. Nev Madsen

Region's biggest food festival cancelled for 2018

ORGANISERS of one of the region's most popular events have cancelled this year's festival amid big crowd numbers and high overhead costs.

The Felton Food Festival has become a staple in the region's events calendar over the past six years but those wanting to take in the flavours and food production lessons this year will be left wanting.

The festival, owned and organised by Friends of Felton, will likely be back next year, according to president Ian Whan.

"We're taking a spell this year, and talking about what we might be doing in 2019," Mr Whan told The Chronicle.

"We've had six (festivals) and they seem to get bigger and bigger.

"It's very exhausting for a small community."

Borne out of a passionate fight to protect the land from mining, Friends of Felton built up the festival which in 2015 received a two-year $61,000 funding boost from Tourism and Events Queensland's Queensland Destination Events program.

The funds were used to market the festival and provide professional assistance, while the Toowoomba Regional Council kicked in $15,000 for website development and marketing activity.

Friends of Felton president Ian Whan
Friends of Felton president Ian Whan Bev Lacey

The funds were successful in promoting the festival which three years ago drew in more than 12,000 people.

But visitor numbers dropped dramatically in 2016 after reports of parking issues and overwhelming crowd numbers.

"It costs well over $100,000 to put it on," Mr Whan said.

"The year before last we had 12,000 people rock up and it was chaos, so we don't want that.

"We would be happy to see 4000 people and just put on a better do."

The festival cost includes celebrities, marquees, toilets and other operational costs.

The committee remains committed to bringing back the festival with a new focus next year, and is currently in discussions on how to achieve that ambition.

But volunteers were needed, and welcome, Mr Whan said.

"It has been very successful but there's only a small pool of people who have got the time and energy to make it work," Mr Whan said.

"We haven't been charging entry so therefore our stalls have to make enough money to cover our overheads.

"We don't want another food festival. We're trying to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace, and make it a bit more serious.

"That's where we think there is a gap.

"We want to make it more meaningful in terms of how farmers go about producing food, and put the emphasis on the production of food."

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