Community is Key to Festival Longevity

When the Apple and Grape Harvest Festival began in 1966, it’s unlikely that its founders dreamed that it would continue for more than 50 years.

The 1966 organisers would no doubt be delighted to know that the Apple and Grape has become one of the longest-running festivals in Queensland. Only Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers, established in 1950, the Redlands Spring Festival (RedFest), which began in 1958, and the Cairns Festival, which has been running since 1961, have a longer history than the Apple and Grape.

However, if the Apple and Grape’s history is dated from its predecessor, the 1954 Apple Blossom Festival, it leapfrogs into second place in the list of long-running events. The Festival can also justifiably claim to be the longest-running volunteer-organised and run festival in Queensland.

Over more than half a century, the Apple and Grape Harvest Festival has seen many changes in its program and events, as well as steady growth in visitor numbers.

The Festival has been a catalyst for the development of tourism in the region and has become an important feature of the local economy, with local businesses factoring the biennial event into their business planning.

Tourism and Events Queensland has recognised the importance of the Apple and Grape Harvest Festival and is working with the 2018 festival committee to ensure it continues into the future as an iconic festival, with hopes that it might eventually become one of Queensland’s “signature” events.

One element that has remained consistent is the community spirit which the Apple and Grape
Harvest Festival celebrates – and which Festival president Greg Thouard believes is the reason the Apple and Grape has forged ahead while other regional festivals have folded.

“Community interest has always driven the festival,” Mr Thouard said. “Over the years, many
people have been willing to contribute to the festival and the benefits of that have overflowed into the whole region.”

The festival of 1972 – celebrating Stanthorpe’s Centenary Year – is remembered as a benchmark event, involving 260 volunteers working in 21 sub-committees.

The festival committee continues to rely on volunteers, from the festival directors to the many who help to set up the street lights and Festival Ball decorations, staff the festival office, assist at the Wine Fiesta, Seniors Concert or Grand Parade, and Open Gardens, manage traffic and crowd control, support the Young Ambassadors, wear the mascots costumes, and direct visitors during the festival weekend.

“The festival committee is grateful for the efforts of all its volunteers, and we hope that members of the community will step forward again to make the 2018 festival as great event for locals and visitors,” Mr Thouard said.

People interested in being part of Stanthorpe major community celebration can contact Director of Volunteer Annette Brown on0409 143 628 or email volunteers@appleandgrape.org, visit the Appleand Grape Harvest Festival Office in the Cairnsmoor Building (open Tuesdays) or visit the Apple and Grape Harvest Festival website (www.appleandgrape.org/volunteers) for further information.

The 2018 Apple and Grape Harvest Festival will be held from February 23 to March 4.
The Apple and Grape Harvest Festival Committee is grateful for the support of our major partners: Channel 7, Heritage Bank, Southern Downs Regional Council, Southern Queensland Country, Tourism Events Queensland, The Breeze, Rebel FM and the Stanthorpe Border Post.