When Rosemary and Richard Jones moved from their Bayside home at Wellington Point to the High Country at Ravensbourne in the early 2000s, it was a considerable change in both community and lifestyle.

Not knowing anyone other than local artist  Jenny Foxton, Rosemary and Richard decided to attend the then Crow’s Nest Council Workshop about economic development.  They saw that there there was the potential for tourism to bring economic growth to the region.

So Jenny and Rosemary called a meeting over an informal lunch and a bottle of two of wine. There, this determined little group of enthusiasts, came up with the concept of the Hampton Food and Arts Festival.  Rosemary describes this early experience as her entree into the community spirit that is so alive today.

So in 2023, we see the result of those few glasses of wine – a 20th-anniversary celebration of an amazing and enduring Festival.  The early goals of reflecting the beautiful location, the producers, the products, the creativity and practices of the High Country were aspirational and needed a concerted commitment and staying power.

To have created something which evolved and strengthened over 20 years is a mighty achievement!  The Hampton Food and Arts Festival showcases different food, wine and arts that are not found in nearby Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba.

Success has been achieved because of presenting the area’s differences.  It doesn’t hang on the credibility of just a few movers and shakers – it has genuinely taken in a whole community and exhibits the spirit of community.  That is why it is alive and thriving today.

More and more local businesses became enamoured with the tourist focus and the progress grew.  Success was visible.  It not only celebrated the beauty of the High Country location, but it highlighted the resilience of local producers to offer quality and different items.  Others then came on board.  

And the patrons came, spread the word and built an annual expectation.  The first Festival in 2003 attracted an extremely strong crowd of people through the gate.  Despite being rocked by natural weather and pandemic conditions in the later years, this Festival has risen strongly for over 20 years – not an easy feat, and one that should be celebrated wholeheartedly.

Originally the festival program was fairly informal without the white marquees and large rows of food outlets.  Then there was a recognition from some of the largest restaurants like Encores, Sofra and Karingal in Toowoomba that there was great potential opening up.  And so it built its profile.

Often there is a reluctance from people to stick their necks out on a new concept, but this wasn’t present in that small group of eight founding members.  The naming of the festival was an important aspect of the discussion.  Finally, it was decided that Hampton Food Wine and Arts Festival reflected the richness of the region in those particular areas.  Jenny Foxton undertook the direction of the creative arts and over the years this aspect has flourished to open opportunities for many artisans.  Tourism brought economic growth!  Goals were kicked!

Local food and wine offerings have continued to attract wonderful regional curiosity and followers.  Obviously, quality and interesting produce, foodie demonstrations and renowned chefs have built the followers.  Determining a workable program and curating the events on the day have been core to the success of the many committee members and volunteers since the first festival.  

With a new 2023 committee working hard to reflect the commitments of those festival pioneers and the informal atmosphere within a much larger stage, the history of the Festival is in good hands.

So who were these founders?  Check out the next blog – The Festival Founders.