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Festival gains traction, showcasing foodie delights

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Aspirations are turning into reality as the region’s foodie industry prepares to host its second annual Flavours of Plenty Festival, starting next month.

The programme and tickets have just been released for the 40 festival events that will be held in the Coastal Bay of Plenty region from 24 March to 2 April.

Tourism Bay of Plenty is organising the festival, which General Manager Oscar Nathan says will be double the size compared to its inaugural launch last year.

“We’re thrilled at the level of support that we’re getting from funders, eateries, event organisers, and food and beverage suppliers.

“We’re all collaborating to create an exciting array of festival events to ensure that the world-class horticultural and marine produce our region generously provides can be showcased on a local, national, and international scale by our innovative artisans and chefs,” he says.

“We ran the gauntlet through the tough Covid restrictions that were in place this time last year and some of the 2022 festival’s largest events had to be cancelled. We were vindicated when 75 per cent of the 12 ticketed events that we could hold sold out. That’s given everyone the confidence to aim much higher now. Last year, it was a four-day festival; this year, it will be a ten-day one.”

Approximately 12 per cent of last year’s ticket holders came from outside the coastal region, and Nathan expects that number will increase during this year’s festival now that everyone can travel freely.

He says this should create a noticeable flow-on effect to other parts of the region’s visitor economy, such as accommodation providers, transport companies, and activity operators.

Flavours of Plenty Festival Director Rae Baker says she’s proud of the wide array of events the freshly released 2023 programme is offering.

“Our top eateries have been busy designing one-off experiences that we know will delight seasoned foodies. Local markets will feature in the festival, and there’ll be hands-on classes and behind-the-scenes tours.”

“Guests can see how premium chocolate is made, create their own gourmet sausages, tend to beehives, or master the latest BBQ techniques. Lots of different cuisines will also be showcased, with Japanese, French and Mediterranean-style food events all on offer,” Baker says.

Tourism Bay of Plenty and Cuisine Magazine will host their own ‘Battle of the Snack’ event, featuring three of the Bay’s top chefs as they mentor six promising future chefs to produce a range of innovative evening snacks.

The Coastal Bay of Plenty’s rich volcanic soils, horticultural provenance, and abundant marine life mean it consistently produces some of the freshest and finest flavours in Aotearoa. The region has also long been renowned for its manaakitanga (caring for people), which is often closely tied to food and special celebrations.

“As we strive to pair our abundant ingredients with a deeper cultural foundation, we can create unforgettable experiences that will become a stronger element of the festival over time, interconnecting our place to plate,” Nathan says.

“We’ve recognised the growing demand for culinary tourism events and experiences, and we trust that locals and visitors alike will seize the opportunity to try something new as they peruse this year’s programme.”

Tourism Bay of Plenty is grateful to this year’s key funders – Tauranga City Council, TECT and Bay Trust – and appreciates the additional support they’re receiving from Toi Ohomai | Te Pūkenga and Craigs Investment Partners.

Ticket and programme details are available at flavoursofplentyfestival.com

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