A Shore thing for the Mid West economy: WA Government backs Geraldton food festival

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
A fireworks show closed out this year's event.
Camera IconA fireworks show closed out this year's event. Credit: West Beach Studio

Geraldton’s newest food festival is expected to inject more than $2.7 million into the local economy over the next three years, attracting close to 2500 visitors from outside the Mid West.

On the back of a successful debut in September, organisers are finalising plans for the 2022 edition of the Shore Leave Festival — set to run over four days at the end of April.

Western rock lobster will be back on the menu when Vasse Felix chef Brendan Pratt returns to curate a long table lunch on the remote Abrolhos Islands in a celebration of WA seafood.

Four notable WA chefs — including local talent Portia Bodycoat — are joining forces to produce a four-course dinner showcasing Mid West produce, while the Fishermans Wharf will host a seafood market with educational workshops and cooking demonstrations.

The Abrolhos Long Table Lunch will return in 2022.
Camera IconThe Abrolhos Long Table Lunch will return in 2022. Credit: West Beach Studio

Geraldton’s foreshore will once again be the central focus of the nautical festival, with a pop-up hub staging live music, kids workshops and sea shanty performances.

Throwing its weight behind Shore Leave, the WA Government is helping fund the event over the next three years.

There are high hopes for the festival, billed as the perfect opportunity to put Geraldton and the Mid West on the map as a food and cultural tourism destination.

Western rock lobster took centre stage at Shore Leave Festival.
Camera IconWestern rock lobster took centre stage at Shore Leave Festival. Credit: West Beach Studio

Tourism Minister David Templeman said Shore Leave was expected to create 200 jobs every year and bring new visitors to Geraldton.

“From its fresh seafood and stunning coastline to its rich cultural heritage, the Shore Leave Festival will shine a light on the many appealing features of Geraldton and the Mid West region,” he said.

“As well as creating a vibrant and exciting atmosphere in the region, the festival will also promote the area as a must-visit destination through media coverage.”

More than 50 per cent of the ticket sales from this year’s festival were bought by people living outside the region, according to organisers.

“Shore Leave is planned to be a headline attraction to bring people to the Mid West region but it is also an opportunity for locals to reconnect and celebrate what makes the region they call home, so unique,” Tourism Geraldton Midwest chair Matt Rutter said.

The maritime festival will run from April 27 to May 1.

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