Orange is set for two hectic weekends in a row with visitors booking out accommodation across the city for the much-awaited return of the FOOD Week festival.
After COVID-19 restrictions put a hold on most of the festival last year many of the largest events, and one big new one, are on as the 30th anniversary of the festival is celebrated from Friday.
Orange360 general manager Caddie Marshall said expectations were high that festival goers would break the $9 million spent in the Orange region over the 10 days of the 2019 event.
"I think we will break the $10 million mark," she said.
The sum includes event spending as well as accommodation, retail, fuel, food and drink and other expenditure in the region.
Ms Marshall said the region's accommodation, covering 2750 beds available for tourists, was booked out.
I think we will break the $10 million markCaddie Marshall, Orange360
The highlights of the opening few days include the inaugural Sampson Street Long Lunch which will see the street filled with several hundred diners on Saturday afternoon and Monday's 30th anniversary FOOD Week dinner, both sold out.
Next weekend Forage and the Sunday Producer Markets will be held.
FOOD president Dr Michael Sobotta said doubts over COVID-19 restrictions had led to the annual Friday Night Market in Robertson Park being cancelled but they had big plans to bring it back next year.
"Essentially the other events are at the capacity [they] would be," he said.
Dr Sobotta said the festival celebrated the region as "the food basket of NSW."
He said it was a key time in the history of the festival.
"It really is a changing of the guard moment, from our original committee members, old-school foodies and chefs who pioneered the paddock-to-plate philosophy in Australia, to the next generation of chefs and producers who are charging a new frontier in regional dining right here in Orange," he said.
FOOD Week secretary and long lunch organiser Charlotte Gundry said the event could inspire other food events to be held in the CBD next year.
"I think we're always open to doing new events," she said.
Apart from the major events FOOD Week includes a wide range of tours, workshops and events at wineries, restaurants and venues across the region.
And while it is well known oranges aren't grown in Orange, apples have been grown here since 1841.
This year's harvest is well underway but the apple will be enjoying its own spotlight as part of the FOOD Week and Orange Chamber Music festival events.
Orange Apples co-ordinator Jane Arnott said a major promotion of Orange apples was underway.
She said apples had been provided to about 100 accommodation hosts across the region and to about seven of our biggest hotels to allow visitors to sample the regional produce.
Mrs Arnott said they were varying the way they were promoting the region's produce and orchardists.
"It's just a bit different, it is bigger in terms of distribution," she said.
"People are really interested in the different [varieties] of apples, it's a different focus."
Mrs Arnott said they were also promoting a farm gate trail with a range of pick your own, farm gate and retail apple sales.
Venues on the tour include Bite Riot, The Agrestic Grocer, Hillside Harvest, Borrodell Vineyard, Rose Farm, Thornbrook Orchard and the Orange Farmers Market.
Thornbrook orchardist Paula Charnock said this year's harvest was more than half way over.
She said there had been a good crop despite a lack of pickers and extra disease caused by more rain this year.
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