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Byron Shire
September 29, 2023

A fine day for wine and food in Ballina

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By Vivienne Pearson

Cheers to Ballina FineWine+FoodFest

The 7th Ballina Fine Wine & Food Festival was held on the weekend, with a gala dinner on Friday night and the main festival day held at the Ballina Racecourse on Sunday.

Five facts about the Ballina Fine Wine & Food Festival:

1. Wine comes before food in the name for a reason – alcohol is a big focus of the festival and you are greeted with a glass of champagne.

2. Only over-18s are allowed entry, making it an adult-only event.

3. The festival is run by Rotary (Ballina on Richmond), with profits going to local causes.

4. It is an all-weather event, with all stalls undercover

5. Buses run to Brunswick Heads, Byron Bay, Suffolk Park and Bangalow – costing only $5 a ticket.

Over to the punters for their views on the day:

Jo Colja, from Kingscliff, speaking about Paella Time: ‘The big paella pans are amazing; they look like works of art! I’d like to try some but I’ve eaten so much that I might have to go for a walk first.’

Jo Colja and the artistic paella_BallinaFineWine+Food Fest

Photo: Jo with the work-of-art paella

Gina Combo, from Banora Point, speaking of Wharf Bar and Restaurant: ‘It’s my first visit to the festival. The cheeses are great and now I’m going to try a coconut margarita.’ Says Ralph Mamone, owner of of Wharf Bar and Restaurant: ‘It’s called an ice luge – the drink is poured through an ice sculpture, chilling it. We wanted to create a bit of theatre.’

Gina Combo tries an iced coconut margarita_Ballina Wine+FFFest

Photo: Gina tries an iced coconut margarita

Kerry Deeley from Lismore, with friends Kerry Gollan and Nola Murray, speaking of Byron Bay Olive Company: ‘We’re browsing and tasting before deciding what to buy for lunch. Everyone is so friendly and happy to share information on their food and wine.’

Kerry, Kerry and Nola_Olive Tasting_BallinaFineWine+FoodFest

Photo: Kerry, Kerry and Nola with Antoine and Louis from Byron Bay Olive Company 

Nicole, Sandra, Darren, Josh and Justine, from all over, about Truly Tea: ‘We are best friends – some from primary school – who come here every year. We love the tastings and the aromas. We love these cocktails!’ Says Nyoli Scobie, from Truly Tea: ‘Our tea cocktails are sugar-free, hydrating cocktails.’

Best friends at TrulyTea_BallinaFineWine+FoodFest

Photo: The best friends with Nyoli and Keith from Truly Tea

Gavin Hughes, head chef at Byron at Byron, about his cooking demonstration with Blake Seymour, executive chef at Ballina RSL Club:
‘I really enjoyed the festival! It was fun to do a cooking demonstration with Blake Seymour from the Ballina RSL. We are old friends because he was my second chef at the Byron at Byron for four years. The Rotary Club organisers were very accommodating and the festival was very well organised. I think the way they showcase local restaurants and food vendors is very worthwhile.’

Ballina meets Byron_BlakeSeymour+GavinHughes_BallinaFineWine+Foo

Photo: Ballina meets Byron: Blake Seymour and Gavin Hughes prepare for their demonstration

Jenny Ellenbroek, station manager at Paradise FM, Ballina: ‘Paradise FM is overwhelmed to be the main beneficiary of this year’s festival. The funds raised from the whole festival, including this raffle, will go towards our plans to establish a second studio to be used as backup, for training, and for local content development.’ Says Col Lee, chairman of the festival committee: ‘Local papers and radio stations are the hub of the community’.

Col, Jenny + Sue with alcoholic raffles_BallinaFineWine+FoodFest

Photo: Col, Jenny and Sue with an alcohol-fuelled raffle.

Here at The Echo, we say cheers to that!

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