From October 18 to 22, the communities of Hepburn Springs and Daylesford will come together to celebrate the district’s strong Swiss-Italian heritage, dating back to the 1850s.
Set to commemorate its 25th anniversary this year, the Hepburn Springs Swiss Italian Festa is an annual event which showcases the history, culture and lifestyle of Hepburn Springs and Daylesford and highlights the wide-ranging skills and diversity of the present community and the area’s unique environment.
As is tradition, Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm in Shepherds Flat will draw a close to the broader festivities with their annual La Primavera Festival on Sunday, October 22.
Lavandula’s Jack Larm explained that the festival continues the important tradition of honouring the early Swiss Italian settlers and their love of the land.
“Our property is directly linked to the history of the Swiss Italians in the area,” he said.
Lavandula’s original founder was a man by the name of Aquilino Tinetti.
Tinetti was one of the many migrants who were forced to leave their home in the Italian-speaking Swiss canton of Ticino due to a combination of the embargo, a potato blight and a loss of livestock.
Upon arriving in Shepherds Flat, Tinetti bought the property, built a modest stone homestead on the land and established a dairy farm.
Still in its original shape, thanks to the restoration efforts of Carol White, the stone cottage housed Tinetti, his wife Maria Capriroli, and their tribe of 13 children.
Music and dance is always a highlight at La Primavera Festival.
Emphasis, of course, is on Italian music: piano accordion virtuoso, Salvatore Rossano, will open the festival with stirring songs from the Belpaese.
Crowd favourite Rosa Voto and her Melbourne School of Tarantella will evoke the folk spirit and early pagan rituals of southern Italy with their performance, and add a touch of Carnevale with a Parade of Masks in which children can participate.
Besides the compelling entertainment, the farm will showcase a number of rural skills: workshops and demonstrations will include lavender distillation for essential oil and floral water; traditional Italian sausage making; preserving olives and making olive oil; and bee keeping and honey extraction.
Local artisan stallholders will showcase their handcrafted and bespoke products, available for purchase.
“It’s a day to celebrate the rebirth of the sun with song, dance, food and great company,” Mr Larm said.
The festival also allows visitors to discover the tales of the Ticinesi people who came here seeking a better life and brought with them their skills in farming, food production and architecture.
The original 1850s farmhouse will be open for tours, and a travelogue of Ticino by direct descendants, Faye and Boyd, will be on display.
The festival will also host the Annual Lavandula Petanque Competition, organised by the Maldon Petanque Club.
Mr Larm hopes that visitors to La Primavera Festival are left with a positive and lasting experience of life on a farm.
“We really hope they learn how intricately we are all woven into the fabric of the land beneath our feet,” he said.
“Most importantly – and in keeping with the Italian spirit – the festival hopes to remind us how very important are our friends, family and community.”