A Festival in my Backyard?…Why Not!



I haven’t actually blogged before but my sister (the marketing brain), she has told me to jot some things down and in particular, how and why Handpicked was born. She thinks it’s a cool story…and you know what, maybe it is?



I guess I need to start with an introduction…my name is Kate Cooper (thats me jumping in the photo…I do that alot ūüôā And next to me, also jumping, thats my Uncle Greg. The ones behind the camera…well there’s almost too many to name! You see I am and have been surrounded by family all my life, literally…all of my aunties and uncles seemed to grow up and buy the adjoining block of land to my Grandparent’s, and there’s 5 of them! So it’s a bit of land…and maybe a touch creepy! ūüôā

So my childhood was spent on what we all know as a huge communal farm, a literal hop, skip and a jump (and a few vineyard filled acres) in between us all. During the flood seasons, my cousins and I would build rafts (or wakeboards!) and row to each others place through the vineyards.¬†It’s no lie…catch this video below of my brothers and cousins wakeboarding in the vines last October!

Wakeboarding on the Handpicked Festival Site

The home of Handpicked has been interesting with all this rain, but this by far has been the MOST interesting. Check out our local Langhorne Creek boys ripping it up on our Handpicked Festival site. Sunshine is due tomorrow to dry it all up. Tickets and info at www.handpickedfestival.com #lakebreezewines #floods #rippingitup #locals #somuchwater #boyswillbeboys #homeofhandpicked music credit// Mickey Valen feat. Noe

Posted by Handpicked Festival on Sunday, 2 October 2016

My family are vignerons, growing grapes for the last 130 years and now, since 1987, making wine and running Lake Breeze Winery. So yes, I may have been one of those children who tasted alcohol at at young age…but all for the respect of the art of course! Anyway, after working in marketing, retail and events all over¬†Australia and enjoying a touch of travel, I’ve come home and proudly work at Lake Breeze Wines with my family as Restaurant, Events & Cellar Door Manager & The Official Dreamer Manager (I know it’s wordy!).

So Official Dreamer Manager….that’s a real thing right? I’m running with it anyway! That part of my role is where The Handpicked Festival came from. I had come home after a few years living away and realised just how much I love Langhorne Creek and how it would be wonderful if more people got to experience it. So while strolling around the vineyard with my Uncle Roger (aka. Senior Official Dreamer Manager) we were talking this through and the conversation went pretty much like this…


“Uncle Roger…

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†… why don’t we have a Music Festival in our backyard?”

Being Senior Official Dreamer Manager his response went like this…

…hmm…could we have Pink Floyd!?”

(see…Senior Official Dreamer!)

Left: My amazing crew and artists, Jessica Mauboy, Sheppard and Thirsty Merc at Handpicked 2014 Right: Me at the Brand South Australia after winning Best New Regional Festival & Event in 2015

We had the nay-sayers…in fact my family are so used to me coming up with random big dreams that I actually think when alot of them first heard the plan it went in one ear and out the other. But this time I was determined to make it happen..and I did.


Gosh it was hard, and it still is. The road has been tough, I’ve hit obstacle after obstacle (like who knew how many portable loos 3000 people need!?), I’ve had artists pull out at the last minute, gail force winds,¬†insane¬†diva requests for exotic fruit?, a shortage of beer and I have dead set run out of money!¬†Although having worked in marketing and events before, I feel like I’ve been in a constant state of learning for the last 3 years…the music industry is tough and can be mean guys!


But anyone that knows me will know that Handpicked is my baby and I’ve never had a passion or a dream I’ve wanted to work so hard at before. It’s an honest, true blue, “find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” (oh and have a super, dooper, supportive family helps too!)

Jessica Mauboy playing at the first Handpicked Festival in 2014

I do have to give a little plug and appreciation message to that ‘Senior Official Dreamer Uncle Roger’. Two peas in a pod we are and without him and his support and constant encouragement to “Go Big, or Go Home Kate” – Handpicked would not have got to where it is today. So that’s exactly what we did – we stopped talking about a casual 200 people in our backyard and acoustic local acts and aimed for the stars! And with that came Jessica Mauboy, Sheppard and Thirsty Merc…oh and 3,500 people!!

So now, 3 years in – the beginnings all seem like a distant memory and an unrealistic dream…only turns out it wasn’t!


4 thoughts on “A Festival in my Backyard?…Why Not!

  1. We were at Handpicked last year and i remember thinking while listen to the potbellies with young kids plus grandmas dancing along with me where in the world we you get this sought of experience in one of the most beautiful wineries i have ever seen. So thank you dream marker you have done amazing job!! Even when we are getting soaked through listening to the Veronica’s

  2. God I love it… what a great story. Go you official dreamer. Should be alot more of them around. Glad youve got a senior official dreamer to help guide you. Looking forward to glamping at this years event

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