Review: Festival Of Food & Wine @ 2022 Toowoomba Carnival Of Flowers

The Whitlams headlined Day Three of the Festival Of Food & Wine (11 September) at Toowoomba Carnival Of Flowers.
Grace has been singing as long as she can remember. She is passionate about the positive impact live music can have on community and championing artists. She is an avid animal lover, and hopes to one day own a French bulldog.

What an absolutely glorious Sunday it is (11 September), and how better to crown it than the final day of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers' Festival Of Food & Wine!

The sun beats down as Lenna Maree Moxey takes the stage at 11:15am. She covers 'Walking On Sunshine' and that's exactly how you feel! Her voice is warm and cheery. It's great to see local musicians being involved in the festival.

There are so many family-friendly activities, with the kids especially enjoying the flower crown making stall. Over at the cubby house, they can make juggling balls and have their face painted. There's plenty to do!

We head to Farm to Fork where 'Masterchef' star Julie Goodwin performs a delicious cooking demonstration as she recounts caravanning in Toowoomba in a caravan her grandfather built in the '50s. She has wonderful stories.

She also recounts living in a cottage where she could only cook with one frypan due to the fuse blowing if she used any more. She became very adaptable, a quality which served her well when she competed in the initial stages of 'Masterchef' where they only provided one burner and pan. Her food is delicious, and you can find the recipes on the TCOF website.

The Fibonacci Band light up the stage with their infectious energy and groove. They cover 'September' by Earth Wind & Fire and everyone is having a spectacular time.

Off to the wine and cheese tasting where they are showcasing Golden Grove's selection accompanied by the Bunya Cheese range. Bunya showcases a camembert style, brie style, and the real standout was the truffle cheese. It was perfectly balanced, highly recommended. From Golden Grove, the standout was their Vermentino, which was gingery and bold. A lovely wine.

There are dozens of food and beverage stalls, with many winemakers ready to assist in sampling their products. All of the food is delicious, from the truffle toasty at Bunya Cheese to the freshly shucked oysters. Symphony Hill Wines is a standout, with a wide selection of varieties. Their moscato is dangerously easy to drink, and their montepulciano is stunning.

Cool Nights Big Band burst onto the stage with 'Let Me Entertain You' from Robbie Williams. The vocals are stunningly close to Williams, and the music is powerful and entertaining. The multiple brass instrument blasts ring out across the crowd.

There is a lot to do, so we head to the beer tasting with Your Mates Brewing Co. Their Macca is a clean crisp lager that is easy drinking. Their pale ale Larry won third place in the Hottest 100 of beer, the Greatest Australian Beers SpecTAPular, and it's easy to see why. It is fruity, and bold. Tilly their alcoholic ginger beer is a real win, delicious without being too gingery or bubbly.

Austin Mackay, a Newcastle local, graces the stage and he is vibrant and summery. His indie folk is exactly what the day needs.

At Petals Picnic Patch, patrons can eat and drink away from the crowds, and down at Sweet Street there are delicious desserts and coffees available. TERRA FIRMA DINING take over Farm to Fork to showcase delicious food you can cook over an open fire. They hand out free plates of pork with cabbage salad and pineapple salsa. The food is stunning and it is amazing to learn what you can cook over just a fire.

It must be time for another tasting, and this time, Burleigh Brewing Co are serving up. They showcase Burleigh Bighead, their No Carb beer, that's right, no carbs! It is delicious and light, and not too fruity. Their Mid-tide ale is the standout. Deliciously passion-fruity without being overwhelming.

Emily Wurramara takes to the stage sporting eye-catching purple locks. She sings both in English and her traditional language Anindilyakwa. She plays lovely guitar licks over her gravelly, soul vocals.

She sings a touching song about a recent court battle singing "I'm hurting," in her traditional language. Her voice is captivating. Between songs, there are sections of spoken word which are very touching.

She sports a lovely wooden guitar with the sides cut out, singing 'Black Smoke': "I'll be sleeping under stars tonight, not sure where I'll be," and the guitar builds and sways. The pink hue of the lights shines and fades.

Ash Grunwald takes the stage and invites the crowd in. The guitar growls out a fat tone as the lights flash red and blue and the groove kicks. Grunwald plays alone on the stage, stomping his own beats for his slick guitar lines.

He sustains a long vocal note out into the night. The sound is fat and delicious. He sings to his children: "I miss you more than you can imagine," as he brings the crowd in.

"You ain't my problem anymore," he belts a gospel tune, while he plays slide guitar. The guitar playing is frenetic, but somehow composed. The stage is red and smokey. People are dancing in pairs as he speeds up the song, before demonstrating his half bass tuned guitar, one of five he plays.

The highlight is 'Dolphin Song' a true account of being saved from a shark by a group of dolphins. Grunwald is engaging and ridiculously talented. A wonderful artist.

Now it's time for The Whitlams to perform their album 'Eternal Nightcap' in its entirety, celebrating its 25th year.

A spoken-word monologue starts the show, as happy classical strings bounce up and down. There is silence, before they launch into 'No Aphrodisiac'. Tim Freedman's signature vocals ring out clear and strong. The orange lights glow and cease behind his silhouette.

He plays piano solo and it is romantically sad. "They fall in love with big dumb boys," he sings as strings swell and suddenly drop away. The stage soaks red. It is a unique kind of storytelling.

Freedman jokes that Gough Whitlam in heaven made the weather nice for the festival. The lights spin and twirl around, as the crowd begins swaying and waltzing. The piano and harmonies clash dissonantly. The tension builds and the song ends, offering no respite.

"The lit halos make me feel like I've died and gone to heaven. I didn't know I was that good." Freedman is honest, announcing the next song is about "a kooky lass from Melbourne".

The stage floods aqua-green. "If I had three lives, I'd marry her in two," Freedman declares, flailing his hands dramatically. He is engaging in an all-white suit. Just when you get into the groove of a song, it seems to end too soon.

They commence a carnival-esque track, and drummer Terepai Richmond is a standout. Even the bar staff are dancing. The guitar solos are great, and the bass playing is on point.

"Where would I go on holiday?" Tim sings but we know. We'd go right here. They start 'Love Is Everywhere', and purple beams of light shoot over the large crowd. The songs are almost dissonant in a very creative way. They are dark and brooding, and suddenly Hawaiian guitar chords rings out. The band is very tight and well rehearsed.

"In your 20s, aren't breakups so dramatic?" Freedman asks. "I wrote 29 verses for this song, 3 remain. Here is 'Life's A Beach'." The chunky guitar rings out.

'Laugh In Their Faces' is delightfully cheery, before they play their cover of Dylan's 'Tangled Up In Blue'. The stage turns into a deep ocean, and the absolute talent of the sound and lighting crew becomes apparent.

'Band On Every Corner' has a nice, childlike melody, as the crowd links arms and sways together to the 3/4 beat, ending the album.

They will play one song from each of their other albums, and first it's a song about namesake Gough Whitlam, that is funky as the yellow and green lights shout an Australian theme.

'I Make Hamburgers' is a humorous journey through Freedman's love life, before he sentimentally sings: "Thank you, for loving me at my worst." "Thank you," the crowd sings back. It is very loving and friendly.

'Fall For You' is touching, before Freedman sings: "I will not go quietly, I will not accept your rules." The lights flash yellow, as you feel he's always done things his way.

'Blow Up The Pokies' starts and the crowd erupts. "We must tell Miranda!" one punter shouts, and you know this song means so much too so many. It is special, and the day is crowned gloriously.

Happy patrons disperse and it was a wonderful day indeed. If you get the chance next year, this is one event not to be missed.

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