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Queensland Museum

Apple and Grape Harvest Festival display

by the Stanthorpe Museum

Barefoot grape crushing is the name of the game at the Apple and Grape Harvest Festival held in Stanthorpe.

Initially held as Back to Stanthorpe Week in 1955, the event evolved into the annual Apple Blossom Week when apple, peach, pear and plum blossoms transformed the entire district. The eight day festival included daily entertainment provided free of charge by local groups and coincided with an art competition at the Stanthorpe Gallery. A Ball commenced the celebrations and included the crowning of Miss Apple Blossom and Charity Queen. In 1965 it was decided the event should become biennial and incorporate the newly emerging wine industry.

The Apple and Grape Harvest Festival was initially run over nine days, but in 1970 was reduced to three days. It commences with the Friday night Festival Ball where the Festival Queen and Charity Queen are announced, both of whom represent the district for the following two years. In 2002 this title was changed to Young Ambassador, with male entrants joining the fund raising activities.

On Saturday, the main street is closed to vehicular traffic and festivities include the Grand Parade featuring floats and pipe and brass bands, some of whom travel long distances to participate. Sunday is celebrated as a family day at Weerona Park, with entertainment and food and wine stalls.

Since 1984 the Queensland Grape Crushing Championships have become a highlight of the festivities. Prior to that, the traditional form of crushing had been a fun feature for many years. This usually involves the participants tipping juice and crushed grapes over each other. Local celebrities are asked to participate and become fair game! The first person to fill a container with grape juice is declared the winner.

Barefoot Grape Crushing.
Barefoot Grape Crushing, 2008.Image: PhotoImaging Dept, SQIT
The festival celebrates Stanthorpe's famous apple and grape produce.
The festival celebrates Stanthorpe's famous apple and grape produce, 2008. Image: PhotoImaging Dept, SQIT