Robyn Rogers

The much-loved Hepburn Swiss Italian Festa (SIF) has a long and successful history  but organisers have been plagued by problems (and plagued by plagues) over the last few years.

The SIF Committee needs new, community-spirited members to take the Festa forward.

The Festa went into hiatus in 2018 when it was cancelled at the last minute. The Festa Committee was resurrected with the assistance of Hepburn Shire Council in August 2019 but it was too late organise in time for the traditional Festa date in October. The Committee chose instead to celebrate the date with a fundraising dinner to highlight its return.

2020 was to be the year that that Festa returned with a bang. Planning was underway but organisers were foiled in the middle of that year that we will all remember as the first year of COVID.  We had to acknowledge the reality that if we continued to plan the Festa, there was a good chance that we would have to cancel at the last minute leaving many people disappointed.  Plans were shelved and hopes raised that 2021 would culminate in a better outcome.

2021 started with some hope that by October the pesky pandemic would be done and dusted so plans were dusted off and restarted.  Once again, by the time July rolled around it was clear that COVID was likely to foil us again so we decided to try for a virtual Festa. We had mixed success with a combination of on-line events and a couple of street events such as the Landscape Art Show in conjunction with the Rotary Art Show. Although we had limited success, we had employed a Festa Director who agreed to stay on for 2022.  Things were starting to look up!

In the first quarter of 2022 planning commenced but in March the Festa Director resigned when she decided to move out of the area.  Despite advertising widely for a new Director, we did not attract any suitable applicants. With a committee of only five people, most of whom were in full-time work and did not have the time, experience or contacts to manage a full-blown Festa, a decision to cancel the Festa once again was made.

The SIF Committee is now trying to determine how to move forward in the most positive and successful manner.  Several of our committee members have had to resign due to other commitments so we are actively seeking new committee members with a small marketing campaign starting with this article.  We will also advertise via social media with a view to attracting some new and enthusiastic community members who can take the Festa through the next couple of years.

The good news is that we have had good success attracting grants from groups such as Visit Victoria, Hepburn Shire Council, Multi-Cultural Victoria and the Community Bank Daylesford and Districts. Our biggest issue was finding enough money to pay an experienced Festa Director.  Unfortunately, the majority of community grants available to us cannot be used for salaries and without a professional Festa Director, it’s hard to guarantee success.

Our much loved Festa deserves to live again and there is plenty of support within and around the local community. But we need a committee to take the Festa forward and encourage local community, business and government investment to ensure success.

The Annual General Meeting of the SIF will be held at 6:30pm on Monday 20th March in The Paddock Room, Daylesford Neighbourhood Centre, Camp Street, Daylesford. We are encouraging interested parties to come along and have a say in the Festa.  Sadly, if there is not enough interest then another meeting  will  be held to wind up the Swiss-Italian Festa.

If you are interested in becoming a Committee member or want more information please email

Robyn Rogers is the president of the Swiss-Italian Festa.