Griffith Vintage Festival is back after a more than a decade absence, and winegrowers are urging the community to get behind it and other events to rekindle the festival heydays of the early 1990s.
Winegrower Mario Arcifa, 51, warns “if the community doesn’t start attending the functions that council puts on, they won’t exist anymore”.
Mr Arcifa recalls the four days of madness that would occur over Easter in the 1980s and 1990s.
“At the end of it, nobody would remember anything that happened,” he said.
“It was just so wonderful. There were parades and so many interstate visitors. All the local families would participate too.”
But Mr Arcifa thinks there’s less enthusiasm for local festivals these days.
“There’s too much entertain for people inside their houses, I think,” he said.
Business Chamber President Paul Pierotti says regulation dampens festivities in 2017.
There are now many laws governing how and where alcohol can be served, and businesses can be held liable when a party goer goes too far.
The wine industry has also changed markedly over the past two decades, and this in turn re-shapes post-harvest celebrations.
“I remember the days when there actually was an off-season. So it really was time to party come Vintage Festival, but now for its back to work straight after,” Mr Arcifa.
Most farmers have had to diversify in order to sustain themselves. The Arcifa family also runs a trucking business.
“My uncle had a 50 acre farm. With that, he was able to produce enough to sustain two families. Today we have over 300 acres and it’s not enough. If it weren’t for the trucking business, we wouldn’t be able to get by,” Mr Arcifa said.
This year, the Vintage Festival, which was resurrected by the Riverina Winemakers’ Association, will be held on Easter Saturday as part of the unWINEd Riverina Event program for 2017.
Festival organiser Carrah Lymer said the event is sold out after a surge of ticket sales in the past week.
“About 200 were sold last Friday, and there’s no more left. It's great to see how well this event has been supported” she said.
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