Friday marks the launch of the second Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail Open Studios event. The arts festival is the first major event to proceed on the Southern Downs since COVID-19 lockdown.

Event founder Rosy Chapman says,

“We are over the moon that this wellbeing event can now proceed. For several months, we had to put our plans on hold, as we had to consider the risk of the pandemic impacting our artisans and isolated rural communities.

“We are just so fortunate that Stanthorpe did not become a hotspot with the influx of 43,000 visitors for our biannual Apple and Grape festival, which is a major economic driver for the region. This year, we’ve seen Jumpers and Jazz, the rodeos and agricultural shows all cancelled. As it stands, the Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail Open Studios event is the only event listed on the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse for the entire Southern Downs.

“Back in July, GBART volunteers spent every weekend hosting artisan workshops, educating them on how to host a COVID-sensitive art experience, how to tweak their online presence and what we are doing to promote the event and our region.

“Essentially, GBART is running as a collective of 17 COVID sensitive events across 17 venues, from studios to small halls, breweries, cafes and cellar doors.

“The groundswell of support from our drive market is extraordinary. I know of at least ten large groups from my personal network that are coming from out of town for the weekend.

“These are high yield visitors. We have a group of eight from the Gold Coast that have booked out Sancerre Estate for a four-night extended stay, bringing empty eskies, dining at The Barrelroom and other local establishments, who will also be heading out for an all-day wine and beer tour with Filippos”, says Ms Chapman.

Accommodation operators across the Granite Belt are reaching capacity in the lead up to the second Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail Open Studios event, with over 80 per cent of accommodation fully booked with just over a week to go before the event opens on Friday 30 October. (Source: Booking.com)

Last-minute options include Foxbar Falls for camping and caravanning, Blue Topaz Caravan Park, and Top of the Town Tourist Park for pet-friendly accommodation and camping, and limited vacancies at the Granite Belt Motel, Glen Aplin Gardens, Honeysuckle Cottages,  High Street Motor Inn, cabins at Granite Belt Retreat  and Aloomba Lavender Farm at Liston

Rosy Chapman was inspired by the Silo Art Trail, which delivers international media attention to regional Australia, an influx of tourists to the region, and expansion of the trail into a 200-kilometre-long outdoor art gallery.

The Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail has a strong artisan line up for the 2020 open studios event. Over thirty artisans will be exhibiting on the trail at 17 different venues, from wineries to art galleries and beautiful small community halls.

This year marks the second for the arts festival which provides a fully immersive experience of the rich tapestry of culture, talent, history and artefacts in the region. The Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail Open Studios event is a three-day, COVID-sensitive event opening at 10am on Friday 30 October and closing on Sunday 1 November at 4pm.