The inaugural Hawke's Bay Food and Wine Classic (F.A.W.C) has cemented itself as a permanent fixture on the social calendar for years to come.
F.A.W.C came to an end on Sunday after 56 events over ten days and what a ten days it proved to be. The highlights included a very successful launch party at Craggy Range Winery, a wine tasting with John Hawkesby at Elephant Hill, a Masterchef dinner at Black Barn Riverside Lodges, the One Big Tasty Night at Taste Cornucopia, the Wheely Glassy Hawke's Bay trails wineries ride launch, the Black Barn comedy night, Kai in the Bay and the official F.A.W.C finale party - a beachfront barbecue.
The aim of the organisers - Tourism Hawke's Bay - was to attract visitors to the region and to get locals to come to the events. By all indications these two targets were achieved.
One of the keys to the success of this festival was that all local wineries, restaurants, bars and other companies bought into the concept and worked together to produce high class events. A good example of this was the launch party where you had other wineries happily bringing their wines to Craggy Range.
The other thing the organisers did well was to include an existing event like Kai in the Bay into the programme. Kai in the Bay was one of the standouts in ten days of highlights.
The main reason for this was it was affordable and a genuine family fun day. The huge crowds there were testament to the fact that this event should be a mainstay of future F.A.W.C festivals.
Tourism Hawke's Bay are obviously pleased that the first ever F.A.W.C has been so successful and according to general manager Annie Dundas the feedback has been overwhelming. So much so that November 1, 2013 has already been pencilled in as the date for next year's F.A.W.C. Not only that, but there are plans to run a smaller winter event as well.
Even if this smaller event does not get off the ground, next year's F.A.W.C is already shaping up to be a not-to-be-missed event.