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Italian Spirit Defies The Drought

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Terry Jacobsen from the Wondai & District Band congratulated opera singer Meg Kiddle on her performance … Meg has been a popular entertainer at the Italian Festival since it began in 2015

September 16, 2019

Windy weather and a dust haze that blanketed the South Burnett were not enough to stop Moffatdale Ridge Winery’s annual Italian Festival delighting hundreds of festival-goers.

Revellers travelled from all over south-east Queensland to enjoy an all-day program of music that covered everything from opera to jazz, and classic Italian pop to blues.

They could also try their luck at the exotic Salami Wheel; dance on special dance floor set up next to the cellar door’s cafe; or watch the hotly contested spaghetti-eating competition out on the lawn.

In between, guests could browse a range of food stalls selling everything from chips to cheeses, pastas and pizzas, or slake their thirst with water, soft drinks, Italian Peroni lagers or Moffatdale Ridge’s Tuscan-inspired wines.

Many guests came with friends or family, and were happy to simply set up their chairs and picnic ensembles on the lawns and settle back for a relaxed day of conversation and laughter.

This year, the Festival expanded its range of offerings with a free Friday night outdoor movie screening of “The Godfather”.

Wild winds that descended on the region on Friday possibly dissuaded some people from attending but by Saturday, the winds had dropped a lot although dust hung in the air.

Moffatdale Ridge owner Jason Kinsella said he was delighted so many people had ignored the weather.

“It was a little breezy on the grounds a few times during the day, but it was pleasant and I think everyone enjoyed themselves,” he said.

While attendance numbers were marginally down on last year, he believed could be attributed more to the drought than the dust.

“A few regulars said they couldn’t make it this year because they couldn’t leave their properties, either because they had to feed stock or keep an eye out for bushfires – but told me they’ll be back when conditions improve,” Jason said.

“We’re primary producers ourselves so I really feel for everyone who’s doing it tough at the moment.”

Jason said this was a key reason why the Festival focussed on getting local food producers to handle the day’s catering.

“When times are tough farmers need as much assistance as they can get, and we wanted the Italian Festival to benefit locals wherever possible.

“I think we helped, and we look forward to doing it next year, too, by which time I hope this drought will have finally come to an end.”

Related articles:

Graham and Lorraine Coombe caught up with old friends Jeni Ziegler and Tom McKenzie at the Festival … Tom regularly performs at the cellar door with his sax on weekends

Fortunato Isgro is a popular entertainer at the winery’s monthly Tuscan Feasts, and brought his band along to perform at the Italian Festival

Singer Meg Kiddle delighted the crowd with some operatic favourites …

… and Emily Kinsella treated them to an ensemble of contemporary numbers

Sonia Stein chatted with Terry Cutler and Jill Perry on the lawn … all three came from Hervey Bay for the day

A dance floor set up next to the cellar door cafe was put to good use by patrons throughout the day

Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff chatted with Domenico Taraborrelli who gave the day a firm thumbs-up

Noosa friends Kerry Hudson and Victoria Dent dressed Italian-style for the Festival

Margaret and Gerry Gagel, from Cheeseworld, did a steady trade in exotic cheeses … they were one of half a dozen local food vans which catered for this year’s Festival crowd

Towards mid-afternoon, volunteers took their places for the spaghetti-eating contest, where contestants have to eat a plate of spaghetti and down a glass of wine without using their hands …

Some contestants opted to start with the wine …

… and some found it trickier than expected …

… before they settled into the main task …

… with occasional pauses for degustation …

… before getting back to the task at hand and finding out too late …

… there was a surprise winner they hadn’t been keeping an eye on!

Tony Isgro – Fortunato’s dad – turned out to be this year’s winner of the spaghetti-eating competition … but like many contestants, he needed a wipe-down afterwards before posing for photos


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