Well, we did it. Again.
Another successful spud festival. And to say we have a hang over of mass proportions is an understatement. Exhausted, bleary eyed, incoherent, so tired and spent. But the day? A success. An overwhelming, heart warming, big fat success. Hurruh!
The day is a huge, huge, huge organisational feat. Huge. We are a tiny dot on the map town, and as most small towns do, we struggle to raise funds within our community for groups such as the school, the kinder, the sporting groups, the CFA. All essential services to keep a community running, and thriving. The writing was well and truly on the wall a few years ago that we simply couldn’t sustain fundraising within Thorpdale – the money had to come from the outside. But where did the money used to come from? The Potato Festival. Started in 1977, the spud fest ran annually and provided a much needed injection of funds (and festive spirit!) into our little farming community. Plus, it promoted our beautiful spuds! Win win. After a 15 year hiatus, a new committee and new generation of Thorpy locals brought the festival back in 2015 – to a huge success (you can read about that here).
It was decided in the aftermath of that humungus day that the festival would be held bi-annually. The task was simply too great for not many people to help. We hoped that the 2017 event would be similar to the huge success of 2015, and we prepared accordingly – better traffic management, more volunteers on each gate, a lot more food vendors. But still, you worry…what if nobody comes?! The morning of the festival was wet, rain came and went, dark clouds gathered, I was furiously on my phone trying to tell the world on the festival’s Facebook and Instagram pages that Thorpy was indeed sunny (or would be) and the festival was still the place to be for a Sunday drive with your family.
And then…they came. You came! The cars started rolling in, a slow start, but soon our recreation reserve was full of people perusing the market stalls, watching the speed shear competition, the Hessians on the Field, the spud picking, mash eating, sack races, cooking demonstrations…
All manner of potatoes were consumed (of course) and in the industry tent you could learn just what goes into getting those spuds from our paddocks to your plates. Vintage machinery sat alongside our sponsors new modern technology in tractors, the sheep dogs rounded up ducks, kids bounced on the jumping castles and the local CFA did a road rescue simulation display. We try to keep the festival true to it’s country show roots, old fashioned family fun with a lot of free activities and displays so the day doesn’t cost a fortune, with a lot of money going back into the community. Each community group holds a stall selling food, with 100% of their proceeds kept. All of the festivals overall takings (from entry, competition entries, stall fees etc) are then divided amongst the community groups.
My awesome sister Louise looked after Eleanor and Harriet in the morning so I could try and be somewhat useful in at the festival, although this year I have definitely been a very very small cog in a big wheel (because: very small children!) But my husband, bless his cotton socks, has worked his tail off in the past weeks, months, years, to get this festival off the ground. I don’t think people realise just how much work is actually involved.
It. Is. Huge.
There is a small fabulous team of worker bees who get this done though, all the more valuable because in a town of just 400 people usually people sit on not just one community committee. For example Matt is on the festival committee, the recreation committee and in the CFA. There’s crossover and double ups and people just have to get stuck in. So we do!
I was, again, so proud of this little town and the hands that brought this all together. From little things big things grow! And are possible. For a little one horse town, we pack a fair punch! Estimates are that about 8,000 people flooded through our gates on Sunday. Amazing! Thousands of people, in our neck of the woods, celebrating our humble spud. Mission accomplished.
Determination, optimism and bloody hard work paid off on the weekend. Well done us! Thank you, thank you, thank you, if you came out to support little old Thorpy on the weekend. Every cent you spent at the festival is so well appreciated and goes directly to keeping our little community going, as other small rural communities dwindle and vanish, we are fighting to keep ours functioning, because if we don’t do it nobody else is going to.
Now after some mammoth days, long nights, very early mornings and the life-consuming-festival-obsession, we’re looking forward to getting Daddy back this weekend…before it starts all again for Spud Fest ’19 (heaven help us!)
The Thorpdale Potato Festival is held bi-annually at the Thorpdale Recreation Reserve.
For more information you can visit the website here, or like us on Facebook or Instagram to keep up to date with all the plans for the next festival!