August 16, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier | Image: A lamb at Ekka

Tasmania, Victoria and Queensland have all handed out more funding to public events, for a food festival, sporting events and agricultural shows.

The Tasmanian Government has promised $7.7 million over five years to the Taste of Summer food festival in Hobart, locking the event in until 2026.

The waterfront event had its inaugural outing over the 2021-2022 festive period, taking place from December 28 to January 3. While technically a new event, the festival acts as a continuation of the long-running Taste of Tasmania festival which was owned and delivered by the City of Hobart up until 2021. In May last year, the council announced it would “take steps to transition the Taste of Tasmania to a new ownership model” because it had become too costly and resource heavy to remain a council event.

“It was acknowledged that the festival had grown to such a high level of state significance that it was no longer reasonable for City of Hobart ratepayers to underwrite the event,” said Hobart’s lord mayor Anna Reynolds at the time, after consultation with the event’s stakeholders.

Five days later, Reynolds followed up with a public statement to address reactions to the decision to relinquish ownership and cancel the event scheduled for the end of 2021.

“Putting on an event of the size and scope of the Taste is hugely resource-intensive. Local government – by its design – is simply not suited to running a large-scale, multi-day, multi-million-dollar festival,” she said.

The Taste of Tasmania event was estimated to be worth $47 million a year to Tasmania’s economy, even as the City of Hobart was scaling back its financial investment in the festival, with the state government picking up the shortfall.

Following an EOI process, the event premise was taken on by Pinpoint, a private consortium of local business people with experience in hospitality, event management and tourism, who pledged to deliver an entirely local event – not just featuring locally produced food and wine and an all-Tassie music line-up, but utilising the local event industry and crew to do it. The event was renamed Taste of Summer.

For the first event under the new name, the state government contributed $1.4 million, while the City of Hobart gave $300,000 in in-kind support to the festival.

Dates for the coming 2022-2023 festival are yet to be announced.

In Queensland, the state government has announced $2 million in funding for the 129 agricultural shows across the state.

The funding makes up the government’s annual Show Societies Grants Program for this financial year.

The program will support Brisbane’s Ekka – where the funding announcement was made – to the tune of $150,000, while smaller local shows will receive over $5,000 apiece.

“The local show is so much more than just exciting rides, displays and friendly competition, it’s also an important social and economic event on the annual calendar for our towns, cities and regions,” said Queensland’s deputy premier, Steven Miles.

“For so many Queenslanders, especially those in rural and remote areas, the local show is the time of the year when the whole community celebrates and showcases their produce, livestock and craftsmanship.

“The local show is woven into the fabric of Queensland communities and they are only made possible by the tireless efforts of the show societies and volunteers who conduct them.

“I know that some shows over the past 12 months were again impacted by COVID. Their return will have even more significance for those communities.

“I also know many show societies worked hard to successfully deliver their shows, implementing COVID plans, or even shifting their show dates in order to keep their communities safe, usually with limited resources,” said Miles.

And in Victoria, the state government has highlighted the $4.65 million it has allocated in the latest round of funding for national, international and regionally significant sporting events, as it celebrates hitting a milestone of 500 events supported through its Significant Sporting Events Program which has been running since 2014.

The latest events to be supported through the program include the Gippsland Rally car racing event, the 2022 Australian Ice Hockey League Finals Series, the 2022 Handball Australia Senior National Championship and the 2022 Bendigo International, an international badminton event, which will also be held in Bendigo in 2023 and 2024.

“Victoria is the nation’s sporting capital and we’re backing even more of the sporting drawcards that support communities, businesses and athletes, while delivering thousands of visitors to destinations across the state,” said Victoria’s minister for tourism, sport and major events, Steve Dimopoulos.