The five best insider food tips for Woodford Folk Festival

So you’ve done the shopping thing, the cooking thing and the family thing, all the tasks that come hand-in-hand with Christmas celebrations.

Now it’s time to head off to one of Australia’s largest folk festivals - Woodford from  December 27 to January 1.

With more than 2000 artists, musicians and presenters spread across 400 acts and 25 venues and an audience of around 120,000 people, this is one of Australia's largest arts and music festivals.

There's an app, of course, to help you find your way around the grounds, plan your personal program and keep track of your friends.

It runs every year from  December 27 to January 1, a time when Brisbane's weather is notoriously unpredictable and predictable.  You know it's either going to be really hot or really wet.  Anything in between is an absolute bonus.

Don’t forget your hat, sunglasses, a water bottle and sunscreen.  A fan, water spray bottle, parasol or sarong for the shoulders (doubling as a picnic mat and late night scarf) will also help you breeze through the festival, cool as a cucumber, when the weather is unbearably hot.

It’s also not a bad idea to throw in a poncho, a cardigan and your loudest pair of gumboots, just to be on the safe side.  When it rains at this time of the year, it often pours!

Now in its 31st year, this year's Woodford showcases 15 specialty bars and 66 food venues, with a special emphasis on local producers.

Here are some tips from someone who has the inside info on where to find the best: Kim Pengelly, Assistant General Manager, Woodford Folk Festival.

Where can you get that perfect heart starter coffee in the morning?

I've never had a bad coffee at Woodford - iced, hot or any kind of milk. Coffees on every corner and every barista has a story to tell about where their beans are from and who the roasters are. It's always a pleasure!

Best curries at Woodford?

This will actually be your biggest issue- realising that if you have a different type of curry each meal for 6 days, you won't have tried them all. It's an ethnically diverse food offering here. We are sorry. It's going to be a tough call- let us know how you go!

Favourite afternoon snack?

Bar Sushi - in the Little Tokyo precinct. Is the afternoon too early to accompany with sake? Maybe- but you could get away with a Sapporo next to it.

Healthiest food choice?

Claudes Food has many many healthy salad options with rice paper wraps, and plenty of light options. Also, if you peek into the Children's Festival, the cafe there provides giant watermelon slices, healthy toasties and a range of snacks- no frowny faces there- it's all delicious fresh food!

Best place to relax with a drink and watch the crowds go by?

Without a doubt, the Coopers Bar lives in the heart of the festival. Acoustic musicians playing sessions, shady and restful. A great place to hang and read your programme, or a landmark to meet up with friends.

This year festival patrons will be able to chow down on homemade Mexican, curries and samosas, pizza, pasta, burgers, falafels, paella, Thai, Japanese, breaky bowls, juice, and coffee or treat yourself to a Byron Bay Organic Doughnut, gourmet ice-cream or crepes. Hand chosen to cater for gluten free, vegan, raw and vegetarian. There is everything a food-obsessed festivalgoer could want.
Some steadfast favourites include Spaghetti Junction from Maleny, Claude’s Food of Eumundi and Peddle Power Juice from Byron Bay.

Giancarlo Molinaro, proprietor of Spaghetti Junction and Maleny local, has been serving up fresh, hand-made pasta to Woodford patrons for 28 years. The Spaghetti Junction team takes special care to ensure they are producing food made from top-quality Sunshine Coast ingredients.
“We have many local products, but the bio-dynamic beef we use in our sauces, meat balls and pizza is certainly a favourite, also our own locally roasted organic/fair trade coffee beans blend and the locally made gelato - best in the world!” he said.

The festival’s partnerships with sponsors such as Jack Daniels and Coopers will provide patrons with some interesting and varied refreshments.

“The companies who generously sponsor the festival year after year are integral to satisfying the eclectic pallets of festival patrons,” said Deputy General Manager Kim Pengelly.

Organisers have whipped up a cocktail menu with drinks such as the Lynchburg Lemonade, Watermelon Margarita, Peach and Raspberry Cooler and Woodford Sunrise.

Each bar is individually themed with its own signature drinks and cocktails, from cider and beer to sake and Chambord, vodka and whiskey and wine, so there is always something interesting to indulge in.

Buy tickets online to avoid higher gate prices and longer queues to get tickets. Even if you buy online in the morning before you arrive, you will save time and money that can be better spent enjoying the festival

The Woodford Festival Site is easily accessible by car and public transport from Brisbane. Special bus services run between the site and Caboolture Railway Station. Commencing on December 26 and ending January 2, this service costs $10 each way. See the program for the bus timetable and more information.

Kerry Heaney

Disclaimer: Ed+bK has attended previous Woodford Festivals as a guest of the festival.