It was with much anticipation that I arrived at the Inaugural Victorian Cider and Pork Festival of twenty sixteen! Set in the picturesque Rochford Winery in the Yarra Valley, the event was full of promise for all connoisseurs of pork and cider (that would be me and sidekick MC!). The drive up from Melbourne and the view to the winery from Maroondah Highway only heightened our level of excitement. As we drove up, we witnessed throngs of people mingling on the green; marquees and the like dotted the vista; and the blinking lights of fairground rides added to the feeling of carnival! And what’s better than a standard run of the mill carnival than a festival which featured pork and beer?
We arrived around 12.15pm which we timed to be a respectable hour. The festival was open from 11am – 7pm over the weekend of 23 Jan and 24 Jan 2016. The festival show cased food trucks which served all manner of pig. There was slow cooked pork; BBQ pork; pork in meatball form; pork in burger form, etc, etc. On the cider side of things, there was tasting tents represented by various breweries.
When we first arrived at around noon, MC and I met a lovely festival go-er who mentioned she attended the festival on Saturday also. She strongly advised for us to go get food as the food trucks ran out of food around 2pm on the first day. MC and I thought she was perhaps exaggerating but we made it a priority nonetheless to check out what the food trucks had to offer. Upon surveying the endless queues, we realised that perhaps our friendly advisor may not have been melodramatic.
By then MC had moved onto to join another queue as her desired brisket was sold out very early on in the piece. She figured that a BBQ sausage vendor would be unlikely to run out of food as the BBQ sausages were cooked on the spot and rate and volume prepared could be adjusted to the crowds compared with the slow cooked pork vendors whose creations were prepared hours prior on a predictive basis. I joined her in the queue and thus began an hour wait. Yes, we queued an hour for our pork sausage in a roll. It was delicious but I was positively famished and tired from queuing at this stage. We waited in line for our hot chips as we inhaled our sausages.
MC and I took our hot chips back to the Gold FM VIP tent which the lovely folks at Tyrrell PR had arranged for us. It was such a relief to sit down! We enjoyed our hot chips and listened to the music. Then it was time for cider tasting! With food in our bellies we could now indulge in a bit of cider without getting blotto. We sampled a range of ciders from Victoria and overseas. All the vendors were very much knowledgeable in their craft and were happy to answer questions about their products.
OverallWe liked the concept but didn’t like the long queues or pork shortage.
The Cider and Pork Festival is a fabulous concept. It marries two popular food and drink stuff into a celebratory feast. The venue was thoughtfully laid out and there was entertainment for young and old. This being the Inaugural festival, the event did have some teething issues. I suspect the volume of people may have taken the food vendors by surprise hence the pork short fall. Some of the vendors started throwing chicken on the BBQ to keep the ‘hangry’ crowds fed. My advice for festival go-ers who are coming next year is to arrive early and queue early (before noon); bring a bag of snacks in case of long queues and wear comfortable shoes.