A new festival will have attendees raising a glass or two and celebrating Whanganui food products.

Taste Whanganui will launch at Labour Weekend in October and its organisers hope the event will have spinoffs for local businesses and other events.

The festival, run by Gioia Damosso and Koert Wegman of Lost Art Events, will combine two events they had planned.

Their inaugural On The Rocks event was scheduled for May 9 and had producers from boutique distilleries lined up to attend. However, Covid-19 restrictions meant the event had to be canned.


Now it's being revived and combined with their On The Vines event, featuring wine producers, to create the Taste Whanganui weekend on October 24-25.

"We want to give people a reason to stay in Whanganui at Labour Weekend when a lot of people usually leave town," Damosso said.

"We also want to bring people from around the country to Whanganui for Labour Weekend. The goal is to turn it into a regional event on the same weekend every year.

"It's an extension of the wine, beer and spirit tastings I've been doing [through Whanganui Wine & Food] for the last six years and turning it into an outdoor festival-type event."

Local beer producers Lads Brewing will serve up beers for those who aren't into spirits or wine or would prefer a lower-alcohol option.

There will be VIP tables available in their own marquee, and platters of Whanganui food products.

Lost Art Events wants to showcase Whanganui and benefit other businesses.

October is Whanganui Heritage Month and Damosso said they aimed work in with those events and others around the same time.


"We also want to link with local eateries, bars, the [Whanganui River] markets and accommodation so people are not just coming to our event but we make sure it's benefiting local businesses."

The event will include entertainment by local bands as well as bands from Wellington, Martinborough and Taupō.

"We were terrified at the start of the year, Covid hit and no-one could have any events because it's not safe," Damosso said.

"We were wondering if we'd be able to go ahead with any of the events we had planned.

"Now it's looking like it will be safe to do so and the silver lining is that people are looking forward to getting back into public events. People are in a really supportive mindset to help a lot of industries that were really suffering during that time."

• Taste Whanganui will be at the War Memorial Centre forecourt from 1pm-6pm on Saturday and Sunday, October 24-25. Pre-registration for tickets opens on August 10, with earlybird and VIP tickets on sale from August 17. There will be 1000 tickets available for each session. Visit the Taste Whanganui page on Facebook for details.