On a hot January afternoon in 1997, a small group of friends were enjoying a drop of the local product when one bemoaned about festivals springing up everywhere, complete with the showcase of local wines. As the wine continued to flow, the idea of Tumbafest was born – to stage a festival in Tumbarumba which would celebrate cool-climate wines and fruits, provide a variety of food sourced locally and throw in some music for good measure.
The inaugural Tumbafest was held in the town’s main street – The Parade, with tables and chairs placed on the roadway with the back of a truck for a stage (a practice that is still used today). Publicity for the first event consisted of Letter to the Editor, placed in all newspapers within a 300km range, this along with a terrific arrangement with Prime Television was combined with the best advertising of all… word of mouth to family and friends. Food stalls were operated by local service and sporting clubs, while anonymous volunteers circulated the crowd, collecting for money to hold the event again the following year.
Attendance was around 500 in the first year, and the street was restored to normality by 6pm. Whilst stacking chairs and dismantling tables, the exhausted committee members were clearly heard muttering “Never again!”
Tumbafest has since moved to the Creekscape, where there is plenty of seating, shade and space to move. The event has become a stable in the Tumbarumba calendar, with 2019 marking the 22nd year of the event!
Today, sponsorship is measured in the tens of thousands of dollar, there is an actual advertising and promotions budget, and food and refreshment stalls are outsourced to cater for the crowds. Performers over the years have included some of Australia’s best and since 2005 there has been a paid Event Coordinator to assist the hard-working volunteer committee.