Swan Valley breweries will be able to participate in a major WA food and beverage festival in their backyard after all following an announcement from organisers that there had been a “miscommunication” over the eligibility of local producers.
Mash Brewing had earlier today reported its bid to be a part of an expanded Gourmet Escape format in its district was being denied after being told by event representatives there wasn’t room for companies that would rival major sponsor Gage Roads.
However, a spokesperson for State Government-appointed festival manager IMG told Brews News late today that in the wake of media stories and commentary by the WA Premier, “There has been a miscommunication and they will rectify it and talk to Mash Brewing direct.”
When advised of Mash’s predicament on Radio 6PR this morning Premier Mark McGowan said “I’d prefer the Swan Valley breweries get exposure” from the Gourmet Escape.
The decision by the WA Government to add another leg to the festival, which had originated in Margaret River, was designed to showcase local producers and promote tourism. The event has gained considerable international exposure in the past with attendees including culinary experts Nigella Lawson and Rick Stein.
In the statement the organiser’s spokesperson said, “IMG has confirmed that exhibiting at the Festival’s Gourmet Feast in the Valley in the Swan Valley is open to everyone and breweries can be involved in other events in the Swan Valley as well.”
Mash Sales Manager and Brand Ambassador Paul Fahie said the brewery was happy with today’s outcome.
“IMG have reached out and acknowledged a mistake and it is good to now know we can be part of the event, which will be great for the Swan Valley,” Fahie told Brews News.
There is no suggestion Gage Roads was aware of Mash being initially told of the restriction.
Apart from Mash’s operation, Feral, Duckstein, Elmar’s, Ironbark and Homestead have breweries in the Swan Valley region.
In a strange twist, it was advertised on the festival website that the Margaret River segment of Gourmet Escape, which also has Gage Roads as a senior commercial partner, would feature breweries from the South West. Indeed, there is a special “Battle of the Breweries” afternoon at Leeuwin Estate.
Swan Valley breweries are experiencing the effects of a downturn in spending in the WA economy and are also dealing with the collapse of a special bus service that was bringing interstate and overseas visitors to the region at a time when venues in the region were struggling for tourism dollars.
The Swan Valley Hop-on Hop-off bus, also backed by the State Government, was pulled when funding for the service ran dry.
“We had some good traffic from the bus,” Fahie said. “It was disappointing to see it go.”