ALL roads will lead to Meeniyan this Saturday when for one day only, the township will become the Garlic capital of South Gippsland.
The Meeniyan Garlic Festival – the first of its kind in Victoria, is to be hosted by the Meeniyan Tourism and Traders Association and is the brainchild of Mirboo garlic farmers Kirsten and David Jones who also own the Meeniyan Store which is run by their daughter Flick.
“The whole town has been captured by the festival concept and we are thrilled with the enthusiasm of the volunteers who have come on board to help,” said David.
The festival will take place in the Meeniyan Recreation Reserve and in the Meeniyan Town Hall which, on the day will become the Garlic Institute headquarters. Tickets can be purchased at the Meeniyan Reserve gate and at the Meeniyan Hall: $10 for adults and children under 16 free.
Why not start your day off with garlic tastings in the hall foyer at 9am? At 9.30am local band, ‘Beggs to Differ’ whose members include ex ‘Men at Work’ member, guitarist John Rees will perform. John has organised a fantastic line up of easy listening music to keep you mellow throughout the day. There will be a special performance by the Aria award winning Choir of Hard Knocks at 12.30pm, conducted by founder Dr Jonathan Welch.
Principal artist with Opera Australia, Nicholas Jones, will perform hits from Music Theatre, with a touch of swing, just a day before heading to the Sydney to perform in Carmen at the Opera House. The Brunswick Women’s Choir and local ‘Acoustic Kitchen’ will perform in the hall at 8pm and tickets can be booked on www.trybooking.com/OFMM.
Foodies will have plenty to keep them interested, such as opportunities to taste all things garlic related – including some which are not usually associated with garlic, such as ice cream and beer!
Celebrity chef and author Stephanie Alexander will be at the ‘Books for Cooks’ stand in the hall and will be available to sign copies of her latest books, ‘The Cook’s Table’ and ‘The Kitchen Garden Companion’ at 11.30am.
Peruvian cooking sensation Alejandro Saravia (ex Heston Blumethal’s ‘The Fat Duck UK’ and now Executive Chef at Melbourne hot spot Pastuso) will lead a panel of distinguished chefs cooking up a storm throughout the day.
Leading Melbourne Spanish restaurant Movida will be sending their chef down, supported by local chefs Tamsin Carvan, Maria Stuart and Meg Viney -Bell. Naturally they will all be showcasing the alchemy of garlic in their presentations.
Melbourne food writer, author and garlic champion Richard Cornish, along with wine aficionado Rob Hicks (Grape Expectations) and Marty Thomas from Moos of Meeniyan, will be hosting the Festival Kitchen which will alternate its half hour shows with live music on the Festival stage.
There will be plenty of stalls selling tantalising tucker, deli treats, arts and craft… and of course beautiful ropes of local garlic and garlic products to take home. There’ll be old fashioned games and activities for the kids including billy cart races, garlic and spoon races plus displays of historic cars and tractors to admire, so there’s something for everyone. Watch for wonderful Art in Garlic in the main street too!
The Festival will provide oodles of opportunities to learn everything you ever wanted to know about garlic but were too afraid to ask, such as how to grow, harvest and cure garlic and how to collect and grow garlic from bulbils. Those interested in perhaps growing garlic on a commercial basis will have the opportunity at 11am to learn of the trials and tribulations of entering into the industry from Tony Murphy (a beginner grower) who still has his training wheels on.
Whether you’re interested in growing garlic on a domestic or commercial scale, garlic guru Penny Woodward and experienced growers will be conducting workshops and talks at the Garlic Institute in the Meeniyan Hall. Learn about the various cultivars, how to grow garlic, preserve it, infuse it …whatever takes your fancy! Watch too for local legend Ron Smith speaking on the use of garlic to support herd health.
Supplementary parking will be available at Stony Creek Racecourse, with shuttle buses linking with town. There is also parking provision at the Racecourse for people with a disability.
The full festival program is on page 9 of this edition of The Mirror so that you can see what takes your fancy and plan your day. Further information is also available at www.meeniyangarlicfestival.com.au