Moffatdale Ridge owner Jason Kinsella said he was “blown away” at the big roll-up to Saturday’s inaugural Italian Festival, which included seven busloads from as far afield as Lismore and Redlands

September 15, 2015

Between 700 and 800 people travelled to Moffatdale Ridge on Saturday to take part in the South Burnett’s first-ever Italian Festival.

Ridge owner Jason Kinsella said he’s still not certain exactly how many patrons came to the event because guests arrived and left throughout the day.

“But our helpers on the front gate told me we’d reached 500 about 90 minutes after opening time at 9:30am,” he said.

“Seven busloads of visitors accounted for a big part of that, but people just kept pouring in all day long.”

The Italian Festival marked the welcome return of big outdoor family events at the Tuscan-themed winery.

Guests were treated to operatic favourites performed by Simone Nicole; upbeat Italian pop by Tuscan Feast regular Fortunato Isgro; and jazz and blues numbers from the recently formed Murgon Community Band led by Moffatdale Ridge’s saxophonist Tom McKenzie.

They could also chow down on Italian foods like cannoli, sausages and pizza alongside Moffatdale Ridge’s award-winning wines – including the new, silver medal-winning 2015 Verdelho – or try two different premium Italian beers that were on offer.

There were also immaculately restored classic Italian sports cars to view in the parking lot, and games of bocce (Italian bowls) to while away the time.

A few guests who really wanted to get into the spirit of the day turned up in traditional Italian dress to be in the running for prize giveaways; while others with a more adventurous bent took part in a pasta-eating competition late in the afternoon.

Most guests brought their own seating to set up on the Ridge’s lawns, take in the entertainment and simply relax in the pleasant Spring weather.

But for those who felt like dancing – and that was quite a few as the day progressed – a portable dance floor set up below the cellar door’s balcony proved popular.

Jason said he was “blown away” by the attendance figures but very pleased so many guests appeared to be enjoying themselves.

“Everyone is very well-behaved and seem to be having fun,” he said.

“This is what our winery is all about and honestly, I’m chuffed!”

The Festival combined the best of several things that have proven popular at the winery over the last few years.

Guests who enjoyed the Opera On The Lawn days which the Ridge held in 2010, 2011 and 2013 would have found a lot to like with Simone Nicole’s stunning performance.

Most were probably unaware the multi-talented cabaret performer represented Australia at the annual World Championship of Performing Arts in Los Angeles just four years ago, bringing home 3 gold and 2 silver medals.

But others who’d visited Moffatdale Ridge for one of their popular Tuscan Feasts, held monthly and usually booked out a year in advance, were probably well aware of Fortunato Isgro’s prodigious talents, and also Tom McKenzie’s.

Fortunato has been a regular entertainer at Tuscan Feasts for many years, and saxophonist Tom has been providing mellow background music for weekend lunches just as long.

The main question most guests asked Jason, wife Sue and son Geoffrey on Saturday was: “Will you be doing this again next year?”

The answer, Jason said, was a definite yes.

Katrina Forrest and Gympie Regional Council Cr Ray Currie were having a fun day away from work
Energetic Italian entertainer Fortunato Isgro performed on stage with his band as well as solo on the lawn
Simone Nicole’s electrifying renditions of classical opera favourites kept the audience rivetted to their seats
Belinda Gail and Christine Maree, from Kingaroy, dressed in traditional Italian costume for the day
Graham Coombe, Moffatdale Ridge owner Sue Kinsella and Paul Otto from Wide Bay Transit share a joke outside the cellar door
Many guests danced on a temporary dancefloor near the cellar door; but others took to the lawns as the day progressed
Kingaroy’s Angelique Arden, who came with a party from St Mary’s Catholic College, chats with Brisbane’s
Owen Money
Guitarist Claudio and drummer Stan helped Fortunato deliver a lively performance
Cellar door assistants Natalie Prenol, from Kingaroy, and Michaela Graaf, Wondai, took a quick breather after a hectic day behind the bar; Michaela later won the pasta-eating competition
What pasta does to you … Katherine Morris, sister Rachael and friend Rosie Van Der Weem prepare for the pasta-eating competition …
.. and how they looked after a few minutes of an all-out-assault on bowls of spaghetti bolognese (Katherine ran a close second to winner Michaela Graaf)

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