Lawdogs Matthew Hibberd with dog Harley
Lawdogs Matthew Hibberd with dog Harley Liana Walker

Huge new festival coming to the Granite Belt

THE GRANITE Belt is known for everything from apples to wines, but one producer wants to put the Granite Belt truffle industry on the map.

For this reason, owner of Lawdogs Truffle Discovery Centre Matthew Hibberd will be hosting Queensland's first-ever truffle festival, named Tartufo.

He said the day would consist of all things truffle.

"It will involve cooking demonstrations, truffle tasting, live music and other activities," Mr Hibberd said.

"A big feature will be meeting the detection dogs and puppies that actually find the truffles for the farmers."

The festival will be held on Sunday, August 5, at the Truffle Discovery Centre on Church Rd, The Summit.

Mr Hibberd said it was time for Queensland to have a festival of this nature.

"Last winter every other state with a cold climate had truffle tourism but Queensland didn't," he said.

"There's so much passion from people that love truffles - I want to be grown-up like the other states.

"It's time to evolve, so why not have a festival?"

He said the Truffle Discovery Centre was the perfect location to hold the event.

"No one else can do it well and no one else can bring together all the aspects with the dogs," he said.

"So I just said 'let's do it'. Everyone benefits if we all do something.

"People have been calling for another food festival.

"Although it's a niche thing, Stanthorpe's got the vehicle to have more going on than just biennial festivals."

He said having a place for Queensland truffle growers to sell their product was another key factor.

"Some people are throwing out their truffles at $3000 a kilo," he said.

"The reality is when people don't want to be known, how do you sell your product?

"We've got massive demand from cafes and delis on the Gold Coast.

"They're asking why are we bringing truffles up from Tasmania, we want fresh truffles from Queensland.

"I know there's strong consumer demand even though it's a niche market."

The festival will include guest chef Josh Lawson, who is a judge for the Queensland Tourism Awards, as well as local chef Sarah Cowper from Suttons.

"Josh was straight up for it. As soon as we put the call out, he was in," Mr Hibberd said.

"He's coming out for a couple of days to check out local suppliers and do some cooking demos.

"We've asked him to do an Italian theme and keep with the Stanthorpe heritage."

Mr Hibberd said the festival would benefit the entire town economy.

"People will come out on the Saturday, stay the night and come here on the Sunday.

"I want it to be a family event so if you just want a cheaper ticket and mum and dad and kids sit on the rug and buy a sausage sizzle, you can.

"Or you can spend $100 and do the full gourmet meal like the other states, and you don't have to travel to Sydney, Canberra or Western Australia to do it."

Alongside the cooking and truffle tasting there will also be a space for markets.

Mr Hibberd is offering free spaces at the event for not-for-profits and businesses. Anyone interested in holding a stall should phone Mr Hibberd on 0467255337.

Event tickets cost $69 to $99 as an early bird price. Visit www.trybooking.com/ book/event?eid=374061&.

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