Community survey to gauge opinion about Tastings on Hastings

Food celebration: Tastings on Hastings has been a fixture on the Port Macquarie calendar for the past 15 years.
Food celebration: Tastings on Hastings has been a fixture on the Port Macquarie calendar for the past 15 years.

The community is encouraged to have a say about the future of Tastings on Hastings after the much-loved event’s absence in 2018.

Tastings on Hastings did not go ahead as Port Macquarie-Hastings Council instead staged a John Oxley bicentenary celebration as the key community event for the year.

Now the council is calling on the community to have a say about the future of Tastings on Hastings.

The council will use the feedback to inform a decision on the event’s future or what a similar marquee event may look like in 2019 and beyond.

Ian and Jill McKittrick from Ewetopia Farm at Ellenborough have showcased their dairy products at the food festival for three years.

Mr McKittrick believes it is extremely important for the community to respond to the Tastings on Hastings survey.

“Now is the time to get the wheels in motion and get things back on track for the big event we lost [in 2018],” he said.

Mr McKittrick said Tastings on Hastings was a really good event for local producers.

“It’s very good for us to reach out and meet our customers – that’s why we love it,” he said.

Tastings on Hastings, which has been a fixture on Port Macquarie’s calendar for the past 15 years, stemmed from a need to support and promote local produce.

The event has grown and evolved over time.

Council director Jeffery Sharp said Tastings on Hastings had been one of our region’s largest community events and it was important everyone had the chance to have their say on its future.

Drop into a library or complete the online community survey to have your say.

“Council is committed to ensuring our community-owned and funded events deliver value for our growing region, remain relevant for locals and visitors and can be enjoyed by all,” Mr Sharp said.

“At its inception, Tastings was used to highlight the diverse range of local farmers, producers and restaurateurs in the region, and over the years has evolved to incorporate a broader culinary and cultural focus within a growing and competitive local event landscape.

“Tastings on Hastings has been supported by our community for many years, and so any decision on its future, or what a council-owned marquee event for our region may look like, must consider our community’s feedback.”

It costs about $150,000 a year to deliver the event, which is offset by sponsorship, grant funding, income from market stalls and gate entry fees.

The net cost to the council is $40,000 to $60,000.

As well as being an event for locals to enjoy, each year Tastings on Hastings has attracted day trippers and some overnight visitors which brings about $350,000 into the economy.

“We’re inviting everyone who loves Tastings on Hastings, or would like to see it evolve or be replaced by something new, to take the time to have your say and let us know what you think,” Mr Sharp said.

The community has until November 18 to complete the community survey.

The feedback will also be used to understand the types of events the community would like to see council invest in and focus on in the future.

Feedback will be presented at the December 12 council meeting.