Gayle is a retired accountant and a photography enthusiast living on Victoria's beautiful Bass Coast. Gayle is passionate about writing and keen to showcase Aussie culture to a global audience. Gayle loves her family, dogs, sunsets, and chocolate.
How Do They Cram All This into One Weekend?
It's on -again, the annual Meeniyan Garlic Festival. But don't be deceived, garlic may be the main attraction but this is actually a fun-packed family event. So much so that you will be challenged to get through all the activities on the day. So what's it all about? It's tasting, drinking, dining, playing, kid's games, competitions, a showcase of local produce and live music. If you are a true garlic enthusiast, there's a trip down Garlic Drive, talks by Garlic Institute gurus, Festival Kitchen and would you believe, garlic beer and garlic ice-cream. In a 2020 first, the Saturday festival is followed by a Sunday Regional Degustation Event. Why wouldn't you stay the whole weekend? So here it is, 21 things to do at the Meeniyan 2020 Garlic Festival, Victoria's only garlic festival, and the Regional Degustation Experience.
1. Head down to the Garlic Precinct where 15 featured garlic growers and a number of other garlic and greens stalls will showcase Gippsland produce. Check out the huge variety of garlic, talk to the growers and try and buy. There is reputedly tonnes of great Australian garlic at the festival.
Garlic Galore - Image from Meeniyan Garlic Festival Facebook Page
2. Garlic Grazing. Deserving of special mention and renowned favourites at the festival are garlic beer and garlic ice-cream. That's right, beer and ice-cream, so if all you've been doing with garlic is flavouring the stew you've been short-changing yourself.
Gardenvale Garlic - Image from Meeniyan Garlic Festival Facebook Page.
3. Talks and Workshops about growing garlic, varieties and the health benefits of garlic will be hosted by The Garlic Institute. Penny Woodward, organic gardener, author and broadcaster will be speaking about growing garlic in the home garden and heirloom tomatoes. Richard Rankin will speak on organic garlic growing and non-toxic weed management. Trevor Gray will present a talk on exploring the flavours of garlic. Noel Fitzpatrick will enlighten us about growing truffles and Kerry Galea will chat about moon gardening. Click on the speaker's names for their bio and scroll to the bottom of the page for their presentation times.
4. Festival Kitchen on the Festival stage will be presented by four outstanding chefs. Choose from Understanding Seasonal and Local Produce by Alejandro Saravia, Trevor Perkins, Head Chef at Hoggett Kitchen, Growing and Cooking with Australia's Native Food Plants by Julie Weatherhead, and Antony Ellis, Executive Chef at the Grove. Click on the chef's names for their bio and scroll to the bottom of the page for their presentation times.
Tasting Gippsland – Main Street Grazing
5. Have a light breakfast or skip it altogether. You'll need to leave room for the Main Street Grazing at the festival. In addition to garlic, the hero food of the day, there will also be local produce, regional wines, ciders, craft beers and local cheeses. Sit and relax at one of the long tables as you taste and sip and listen to live music or sit beneath the shade of umbrellas.
Wineries Dirty Three Wines, Walkerville Winery and Tilson Hill will be there to tempt you with their wares.
Indulge yourself - Image from Meeniyan Garlic Festival Facebook Page
Work your way through stalls like Twins Pantry who create healthy snacks of the highest quality with heaps of fun flavours including garlic. Try their Mexican Spiced Nuts, Mediterranean Chilli and Lime Nuts, Pesto Almonds or other sweet and savoury treats. There will be more than 50 stalls to tempt your taste buds.
Twins Pantry - Image from Meeniyan Garlic Festival Facebook page
The Burra Brewing Company are long-standing participants at the festival. Come along and taste what this microbrewer from Korumburra has to offer. Also present will be Bullant Brewery, Grand Ridge Brewery and Twisted Sister Cider.
Love a good cheese? Don't miss Berry's Creek Gourmet Cheese and Prom Country Cheese.
Burra Brewing - Image from Meeniyan Garlic Festival Facebook Page
7. Veggie sculptures competition. Visitors are invited to create sculptures from vegetables. There are prizes for all age groups and these are awarded at 12pm and 3pm.
8. Billy cart time trials. Kids can test their skills in one of the billy carts on the festival track and vie for the time trial prizes.
9. The Great Garlic Quest. Pick up the clues and search the festival for the 10 cartoon garlic characters. Punch stamp the card and when it is completed return it to the Kids Info Tent for entry into the prize draw.
Sack Race - Image from Meeniyan Garlic Festival Facebook Page
Beggs 2 Differ play guitar, piano, violin, mandolin, harmonica and tin whistle in folk, country and bluegrass styles. Benzo One-Man Band uses a loop pedal to create backing drum beats, guitar riffs and vocals to make himself sound like a band.
Enjoy the Entertainment - Image from Meeniyan Garlic Festival Facebook Page
20. What festival would ever run without highlighting the local arts and crafts? Check out the wares from nearly 20 artists and artisans. With a variety that includes watercolour paintings, soaps, wrought iron creations, tablewares and timber works you will be spoilt for choice.
Enjoy shopping for arts and crafts - Image from Meeniyan Garlic Festival Facebook Page
Visit stalls by Aashay Accessories, Australian Tea House, By Sheryrn, Fido Delights Barkery, Jan's Watercolour Paintings, Jo Street 'Inspired By Nature', Kenko Essentials, Koonwarra Essential Therapies, Little Bumble, Little Spanish Grater Plate, Mat's Hot Shop, Pop's Wrought Iron, Powlett Gallery, Shoo Fly Craft, SmartVac Containers, SP Van Poppel, Titan Peeler, Touchwood Timber and Yardnajar.
Regional Degustation Experience.
21. The Meeniyan Garlic Festival Long Lunch will be curated and prepared by festival chefs Alejandro Saravia, Trevor Perkins and Antony Ellis. This is no ordinary lunch. It is a celebration of local produce and beverages and four hours has been allocated to this degustation experience. It will take place between noon and 4pm on Sunday at 1 Hanley Street, Meeniyan. There is a limit of 250 Guests so get your tickets early.
Alejandro Saravia - Image from Meeniyan Garlic Festival Facebook Page
The Garlic Festival runs from 9am to 4pm, Saturday 15th February, 2020 at the Meeniyan Town, 97 Whitelaw Street and the Meeniyan Recreation Reserve, Hanily Street Meeniyan, Victoria, 3956. There is a $10 entry fee for adults which gets you an entry wristband, a festival guide with map, directions and the festival program. Children under 16 are admitted for free. Be sun wise and don't forget to bring a hat, sunscreen and water bottle. Refills for your water bottle will be provided free at the festival. Don't be late, I hear the garlic ice-cream sells out fairly quickly.
The Regional Degustation Experience runs on Sunday 16th February, 2020 from 12pm to 4pm at the Meeniyan Recreation Reserve at 1 Hanily Street, Meeniyan. Tickets are $150 and can be purchased through TryBooking.https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=580551&
Meeniyan is just over an hour's drive from the South Eastern suburbs and around 2 hours' drive from the Melbourne CBD along the South Gippsland Highway. You can't go wrong on a weekend getaway to this charming town situated in Victoria's beautiful Prom Country. To learn more about what Meeniyan has to offer and check accommodation options, go to the Visit Prom Country website.
I can only wonder at how many festivals there are in the world celebrating natural produce. These are the hallmarks of what the country and farmers are all about and what better way to focus on that than to have a giant community party.