We’re talking with Tara Toomey, owner and organiser of Seasons of New England, about the next Expo set down for Saturday 25th March at Hampden Park, in beautiful downtown Uralla.
Tell us a little about the Expo…
This year we have reached an amazing milestone of 100 stalls; 100 vibrant and inspiring business stories to be discovered! It’s really exciting and a great opportunity to celebrate the New England, to support the people who make it a great place to live and to perhaps be inspired to pursue a dream of starting your own business. The Expo is designed to provide a space for businesses to be discovered both on the day of the event and then in to the future as well, through our various year round promotional activities. Our aim is to provide a meaningful year round platform for the makers, creators and producers of the New England to be discovered, and the Expo is perhaps the most well known part of that program.
What makes it such a special day?
The atmosphere is social, the vibe is relaxed, and everyone is enjoying meeting the makers of an extraordinary range of products. Drawing from right across the New England from Tamworth to Tenterfield, Dorrigo to Inverell, Seasons of New England Expo days are a great way to celebrate life in the New England and the artisans and small businesses that make it such a vibrant and diverse place to live.
Each March since 2014, the Expo has been a drawcard for shoppers looking to connect with the businesses of the New England and shop with the maker. Increasingly though, it has become the space for retailers and those in the restaurant and café industry to come and discover new products to take back to their customers. The Expo is a unique event in many ways, but not least because it is held in a picturesque cricket oval, licensed for just this event, in the heritage township of Uralla.
Why hold the event in Uralla?
Without a doubt, holding such a major event in the unique and beautiful New England town of Uralla has made a significant contribution to the charm and character of the day.
With a vibrant café and shopping scene in the main street, just a block from the Expo, Uralla certainly shines and people feel welcomed. Events like this really benefit from being held in smaller centres; the people get behind the event and help us spread the word. They welcome our patrons and our strong out of town crowd (around half of our crowd usually comes from more than 100 km away). In turn, people discover the charm of a small New England township. Undoubtedly, nearby villages and cities also benefit, creating a win-win for the New England.
What does the line up hold for 2017?
As a fully licensed event we do love the opportunity to showcase the region’s award winning cool climate wines, craft beer, cider and bespoke spirits. The Seasons Bar will have three craft beer kegs on tap, as well as a comprehensive wine, cider and spirits list, and is always popular. With the makers on site with their own stalls too, people can enjoy tasting the drops and stocking up while they’re there.
Alongside these fabulous drinks are beautiful handmade clothing for all ages, gourmet jams, cordials and relishes, cheeses, skin care, hand dyed wools and screen printed fabrics, art, jewellery, confectionery, candles, leather goods, and so much delicious food! Think local beef and lamb, small goods, tasting plates, olives, honey, free range eggs, nougat, pastries, pies, sausage rolls, Thai food, fabulous BBQ dishes – and more!
New England Unearthed adds a special edge, bringing up and coming New England musicians to the Expo stage with a professional sound desk. With the Expo running from 9am – 4pm, a diverse line up of talented musicians play on until 7pm, ensuring there are plenty of reasons to hang around for the night time events that follow the Expo. For 2016 and 2017, the magical Uralla Lantern Parade has followed, and the dates have also coincided with the week-long Uralla Rotary Art Show, celebrating its 40th year in 2017. So many reasons to head to Uralla!
Supporting the small businesses of the New England is a cause we feel is worth championing, and so far we have had positive results. The event has consistently attracted strong crowds, the last of around 4,500, and a steady flow of overnight and longer stay visitors, with many involved in the Expo reporting long tail business as a result of being involved in the day. A great way to showcase a thriving New England.