Wild food enthusiasts from across the Bay of Plenty are planning their menus and waiting expectantly for the return of the Local Wild Food Challenge, where challenge entrants present dishes using wild ingredients sourced from land and ocean.

The festival will be returning to Mahy Reserve in Ōhope on 2 February 2019. Whakatāne District Council Tourism and Events Team Leader Nicola Burgess has announced a suite of changes for the event which is now in its fourth year. 

“We are very excited to have Rachelle and Chris Duffy and their team from Little Big Events on board to help deliver this unique foodie event. Rachelle has a wealth of experience, having brought together iconic events such as the Little Big Markets, Dinner in the Domain and the Tauranga Coffee Festival.

“The Local Wild Food Challenge includes food demonstrations, live bands, kids’ activities, a beer garden and tasting BBQ, all at a stunning venue which celebrates the best of our District.  To allow for the new programme and growth of the event there will be a small cover charge for adults, but kids will remain free,” she said.

Ms Duffy said she was looking forward to extending Little Big Events’ knowledge and expertise to the Whakatāne area.

“We are really excited about being on board at the Local Wild Food Festival in Ōhope. Our team is familiar with the region and has been asked many times to bring a bit of what we do under the Little Big Events umbrella to Whakatāne, so when we got asked to sit alongside this event we said yes with no hesitation.”

Whakatāne’s Local Wild Food Challenge is part of a worldwide series of events, held in locations as far away as Finland and Italy. 

Chef and event founder, Bill Manson said the Eastern Bay of Plenty is blessed with an abundance of wild food, and people who are passionate about it.  

“Start thinking about your dish now – try to think about what is in season and don’t be scared to push the boundaries,” he said.

This year, entrants who register prior to the event will receive a produce bag filled with foodie treats from local producers. Registrations are open now at localwildfoodchallenge.com and information is also available on the event’s Facebook page facebook.com/localwildfoodchallenge. There are a number of event categories for all ages and a large number of prizes up for grabs.

Event organisers are calling for sponsors, volunteers and food stall operators to register their interest now and would like to hear from anyone else interested in being involved in the event. Please contact Julie Allerby at Julie.allerby@whakatane.govt.nz or rachelle@littlebigevents.co.nz