Vento cafe manager Lauren Fenelli, centre with twin sisters Yasmin and Yolanda Absolom at an events, catering and entertainment expo in Wallan at the weekend.

A WEEKEND-LONG expo at Wallan’s Vento Cafe has given a boost to the region’s entertainment and events industry.

Several businesses, from cake-makers to musicians to event-hire, took part in the expo, which was hosted at Vento’s two function rooms from Friday until Sunday evening.

Cafe manager Lauren Fenelli said she wanted to support a diverse range of local businesses that had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We came up with the idea to have a function expo and get more people in the industry involved and get them working again after COVID,” she said.

“The idea was so people could come over during the weekend and view cakes, decorations, videos, music artists and things like that, and book locals so they can get up and running again.

“We haven’t been able to do functions here because of the restrictions on numbers and the size of the room, but that’s hopefully easing, so we’re taking bookings in the future and people can still do smaller functions here.”

Ms Fenelli said support for the idea from businesses and the public alike had been encouraging.

“We got a function booking within 15 minutes [of starting],” she said.

“We’ve had a lot of emails about functions and coming through and viewing stuff, so it should be pretty positive.”

Sisters Yasmin and Yolanda Absolom, who form a musical act known as Flaxxon, said they took part in the expo in the hopes of reigniting the region’s live music scene.

“After COVID it has been really stressful just trying to book our gigs back in again, because we were doing three or four gigs a week [before],” Yasmin said.

“It feels like we’re starting from the bottom again. It’s hard, and I feel like every business is a bit like that.”
Yolanda said there had been pros and cons to the pandemic for the duo.

“We’ve obviously lost all of our work, all of our income and all of our prospective gigs,” she said.

“Doing what we love has been hard, but the positive is that we learned how to take everything onto social media and honed our skills in terms of communicating with our followers.

“We also wrote an album through COVID, because we really had a chance to just stop, and we didn’t have the things that life threw at us to worry about.

“Now we’re really trying to connect with the community again, just to say ‘hey, we’re still here, don’t forget about us’.”

People can contact Vento Cafe for more information on the weekend’s exhibitors or to book a function by calling 5783 4829 or searching for Vento Cafe Bar Restaurant on Facebook.