WA Gourmet Escape organisers announce cancellation

Organisers of Western Australia Gourmet Escape said the festival would return with an even bigger lineup next year. Photo: Travis Hayto Photography
Organisers of Western Australia Gourmet Escape said the festival would return with an even bigger lineup next year. Photo: Travis Hayto Photography

Annual food and wine festival Western Australia Gourmet Escape is the latest victim of the COVID-19 global pandemic, with organisers confirming this week that the festival would not go ahead in November.

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In a statement released on September 21, event director Sarah Lovell said she was saddened to share the news of the cancellation.

"The health and wellbeing of our guests, contributors, venue hosts, staff and the wider community is paramount," Ms Lovell said.

"Since its inception in 2012, Gourmet Escape has brought together top talent and nearly 150,000 visitors from Australia and around the world to experience the extraordinary food, wine, produce and landscape that Western Australia has to offer, contributing $70 million and in excess of 50,000 visitor nights to the local economy.

"And in light of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and current movement restrictions, we can't see a way to do that this year."

Chef Rick Stein meets a local on the beach at Meelup during Gourmet Escape. Photo: Elements Margaret River

Chef Rick Stein meets a local on the beach at Meelup during Gourmet Escape. Photo: Elements Margaret River

City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley said the economic loss as a result of key events cancelling would extend into the millions of dollars.

"In the past few weeks we've had notification of the cancellation of several long-standing and important events including Ironman WA Busselton and Gourmet Escape," he said.

"This is a blow for event organisers and participants and it's certainly a blow for local businesses, many of whom are still recovering from Covid-19 shutdowns.

"The financial impact on the local economy associated with the cancellation of Ironman and Gourmet Escapes will extend well into the millions.

"However, we're already planning with event organisers to ensure these iconic events are back better than ever in 2021."

Gourmet Escape has become a favourite for foodies around the country, keen to rub shoulders with celebrity chefs including Marco Pierre White, Nigella Lawson, Rick Stein and Heston Blumenthal.

The Margaret River region was the home of the festival until a change in format in 2019 saw the event split into three locations over two weeks, beginning in the Swan Valley before moving focus to Perth city and concluding over a weekend in the South West.

Leeuwin Estate welcomed thousands of visitors to its Gourmet Village each November to sample beers, wines, spirits and a huge array of food and food related products from around the state. Photo: Elements Margaret River

Leeuwin Estate welcomed thousands of visitors to its Gourmet Village each November to sample beers, wines, spirits and a huge array of food and food related products from around the state. Photo: Elements Margaret River

The announcement is yet another blow to the State's tourism and events industries following sweeping cancellations of major annual events into 2021.

Last week it was revealed the Good Day Sunshine music festival would move to Barnard Park in Busselton to allow organisers to hold the world's first COVID-safe festival.

Ms Lovell said Gourmet Escape organisers would be working with Tourism Western Australia to support an "inbound tourism revival".

"We are pleased to share that plans are already underway for Western Australia Gourmet Escape in November 2021 which will see the beloved festival return with an even bigger lineup of world-class culinary talent and extraordinary food and wine experiences."

This story WA Gourmet Escape organisers announce cancellation first appeared on Augusta-Margaret River Mail.