The first weekend of autumn will be the perfect weekend to forget the horror summer we've all had and what better way to celebrate than with three days of great food and drinks.
Merimbula's EAT festival brings together the region's best produce and producers, chefs and brewers, held on the foreshore of the Fishpen, overlooking the bay and working oyster leases.
Now in its eighth year the festival has expanded to fill the whole weekend from March 6-8, culminating with the traditional market festival on Sunday, March 8 , from noon to 2pm.
Festival director Anthony Osborne said it was important to get the community back together after the devastation of the fires.
"As difficult as it is for some people to lift themselves off the canvas, we just know how important it is for the festival to be the best it can be, to provide that support for the community," he said.
"It's been a strange time for sure, but events like this bring us back together, bring a sense of normalcy."
While the Sunday market is at the heart of the festival, Osborne said he was looking forward to the additional events.
"On Friday night there's a degustation dinner at The Wharf Restaurant, which is such a beautiful location," he said.
"We'll have three of the region's best chefs showing the region's best produce."
On Saturday, Wheeler's Seafood Restaurant hosts the Long Table Lunch, another degustation event where your meal is shared with the farmers, winemakers and brewers themselves. Each course will be paired with regional wines.
Saturday also sees the addition of the Craft Beer Festival at Rockpool Cafe, at Club Sapphire. From noon til 5pm you can meet brewers from regional breweries such as Longstocking Brewery.
On the Sunday night after the market, if you have any room left in your stomach, there'll be a beer degustation dinner at Rockpool Cafe, where each course will be matched with beer.
Osborne said the whole philosophy of the event was to push chefs and producers, as well as the public, out of their comfort zones a little.
"It's about delivering something unique, taking our local produce as the core, but taking it a step further," he said.
"We have fantastic seafood, oysters, a really strong mussel industry, we've seen sea urchin and abalone on the menu ... but there's also a really strong dairy industry where and lots of small fruit and vegetable producers who are doing big things."
Entry into the Sunday market is free between 10am and 2pm, the different stalls present entree size and prices are capped at $10 per dish.
For more details head to eatfestival.com.au
- Fill Your Esky is a series from The Canberra Times highlighting regional producers and food and wine based businesses recovering from the bushfires. If you have a story you'd like to share email firstname.lastname@example.org