Tourism WA and operators keeping Pair’d details under wraps as planning continues for November festival

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Ahoy Management's Brianna Delaporte and Erin Molloy.
Camera IconAhoy Management's Brianna Delaporte and Erin Molloy. Credit: Warren Hately/Augusta-Margaret R/RegionalHUB

Tourism WA is keeping any plans for headline talent for its Pair’d festival under close wraps, but the Times understands it will rope together food, wine and music in a new way.

Planning for the festival program was still in progress and a Tourism WA spokesperson declined to confirm whether the South West could expect further visits from the likes of Nigella Lawson or Heston Blumenthal.

“More detail on the event concept and final event program, including culinary talent, will be revealed later this year,” they said.

“Pair’d will work in collaboration with local talent and incorporate national and international chefs, artists, authors, writers and personalities that will enhance the work of local operators, chefs, winemakers and sommeliers.”

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Tourism WA also didn’t reveal the cost for the new festival — which replaces Gourmet Escape — run predominantly by WA events managers on behalf of the State Government, including Ahoy Management.

Though, part funding was through Royalties for Regions, a spokesperson said, and was part of an overall $59 million events budget.

Tourism operators told the Times briefings had encouraged them to think differently than the Gourmet Escape format, and any celebrity talent was expected to have strong ties to the Margaret River region already.

Margaret River Wine Association chief Amanda Whiteland said she was thankful to the State Government for recognising the significance of the region’s world-class wineries and the potential for wine tourism.

“This new wine and food event is focused exclusively on the Margaret River region and will celebrate the exceptional quality and diversity of offerings within our esteemed wine-producing community,” she said.

“We are confident that this event will attract both locals and visitors, further elevating the Margaret River region’s reputation as a premier destination for wine enthusiasts and epicureans worldwide.”

Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association chair Stuart Hicks said Pair’d was another important commitment to solidify the region’s tourism sector.

He said the State Government’s investment was “critical to helping build our region’s values, reputation, and year-round visitation”.

Shire president Julia Meldrum said talks were already under way with Tourism WA and event managers to streamline plans for November as well as “to ensure that the event is aligned with the region’s values”.

The Australian Hotels Association WA chief Bradley Woods said the decision to retain ownership of the brand name was a wise investment in the future of the State’s tourism marketing.

He said the flow-on benefit to accommodation providers as well as regional chefs, winemakers and musicians was a chance to “shine on a national stage”.

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