The Taste Festival: Starring Mr Squid

by Cassandra Wunsch

The Taste Festival in Hobart draws huge crowds, keen to dine at the banquet of fresh fruit, seafood and decadent wines Tasmania has to offer.  This year there was a seven-day program of wine tasting events, and themed tours of the festival for visitors were back by popular demand.

The Taste - Festival Crowd
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The Taste Festival crowd inside the updated Princes Wharf Shed, Hobart

Media releases and television spots for the Taste always focus on the food, the wine and of course the prime location to watch the boats come in at the conclusion of the Sydney to Hobart, all of which draws tourists by the score.  Tasmania is already famous for Boag’s and Cascade; for Mures and abalone; and of course for wine.  The Taste also gives local performers the opportunity to strut their stuff on what is rapidly becoming a national stage.

The Taste - Cascade Brewery
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Cascade Brewery, a major sponsor of the Taste Festival, in Hobart

Introducing Mr Squid, Sword Swallower Extraordinaire!

It is at this point in time I’d like to introduce you all to Mr Squid.  A Tasmanian by birth, he comes back every year for the Taste Festival, to dazzle and amaze, and of course to yell at his audience.

The Taste - Mr Squid, Sword Swallower
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The sword swallower Mr Squid entertains the crowd at the Taste Festival

The unstoppable Mr Squid performs a number of eye-popping and stomach churning tricks, including fitting his entire body through a tennis racket, and swallowing a sword, much to the amusement of the kids.  For all the gasps and cries of dismay, not a single person managed to pry themselves away from the spectacle, and from Mr Squid’s cavalier disregard for his own body.

The Taste - Buskers
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Crowds at the Taste Festival in Hobart appreciate the buskers every year

According to Mr Squid, he is one of only five sword swallowers in Australia at this time, out of 52 registered practitioners in the world.  It says something about Australia that such a high percentage of the world’s sword swallowers are here, doesn’t it?


 

He wasn’t alone at the Taste though.  Over the course of the day the crowd was treated to a pair of unicycle riders on bikes some 15 feet high!  A pair of ‘bouncy brothers’ in the entryway performed tricks for startled new arrivals that involved a lot of air time.

The Taste - Bouncy Brothers
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Roving performers, the Bouncy Brothers, greet arrivals at the Taste Festival

The Taste: Something for Everyone!

Thanks to all these performers and practitioners of ancient arts, the Taste was not only a bright and vibrant experience, it was also blissfully calm, with culture and food for mum and dad, and massive unicycles and men swallowing swords for the kids!

It was requested by the performers that at the conclusion of this article I mention that they are all buskers, who live on the enjoyment of the crowd and its expression in terms of remuneration.  In the words of Mr Squid, “these are hard times, but if you’re wearing $500 shoes, you can probably spare me a fiver!”


 

The Taste Festival runs every year in Hobart during the new year week and has been steadily increasing in size.  In an economic environment as volatile and uncertain as this one, many Australians are choosing to spend their holidays at home, discovering some of the amazing things we have to offer.  The Taste Festival in Hobart is rapidly rising in profile as more and more people discover Hobart’s unique flavour!

The Taste - Princes Wharf Shed No 1
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Patrons continue to flock to Princes Wharf for the Taste Festival in Hobart

Cassandra Wunsch is a third-year journalism student at Open Universities
Australia. She lives in Hobart with her husband Florian and daughter Taliesin,
and would like to continue to write full-time when she graduates.
Her personal blog is www.10percentinspired.com

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Map: Taste Festival, Hobart Tasmania…