The Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail, held over three huge days at the end of October, is reporting almost 3000 visitors through venues for 2020, compared to 1100 people in the first year.
The open studio’s event ran as a collective of COVID sensitive events across 17 venues, from studios to small halls, breweries, cafes, and cellar doors. Thirty local artisans held workshops throughout the region from Wallangarra in the south to Cottonvale in the north.
Visitors and locals alike took classes, watched demonstrations and were entertained by the area’s wealth of local talent. “Our inaugural event brought over $60,000 into our regional economy from tourists. In 2021, our conservative estimate is well over $600,000, thanks to the groundswell of support from our drive market,” says event founder Rosy Chapman.
“Our highest-yield visitors came from Brisbane, Toowoomba, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast. Many stayed for more than three nights, booking alternative wine tours, visiting our national parks, and patronising our local businesses. “Our first year saw local support at 60 per cent and visitor support at 40 per cent. This year, the scales have tipped, bringing the Granite Belt 60 per cent of visitors from outside the region, and 40 per cent of locals, who continue to get behind the event, which has the objectives of inclusiveness, reduced isolation, identity as art and cultural destination and economic diversity,” says Ms Chapman.
First-time visitor to the Granite Belt Freya James joined a group of eight for a four-night getaway, visiting numerous venues on the trail via self-drive and Filippos Wine Tours, describing her experience as “magical”. Her most loved artisan was watercolourist Judi Pigeon, who demonstrated her art at Ballandean Estate. “Judi’s watercolours spoke to my heart. I purchased one of her smaller pieces and I just love it.
“The Barrelroom at Ballandean was a definite standout. Beautiful food and wine alongside welcoming service. Even though we arrived just before service closed, we could not have been looked after better. The Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail Open Studios Event provides a fully immersive experience of the rich tapestry of culture, talent, history, and artefacts in the region. The self-drive trail is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the picturesque landscapes around Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt, including national parks, mountains, award-winning wineries, and local cafes,” she said.
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