AN August 2022 Agfest is set in stone, after the Government failed to respond to pleas from organisers and the Tasmanian rural and business community to lift Covid capacity caps above 5000 a day.
The move comes despite the State Government recently raising the capacity limit at Blundstone Arena in Hobart to 14,000 to accommodate the fifth Ashes cricket test.
Concerns had also been raised from the rural sector and agricultural machinery suppliers that holding the event outside its usual May end-of-financial year timing would be problematic.
Rural Youth representatives recently met Public Health officials and were told that the capacity limit for Agfest wouldn’t be reconsidered until late January/early February, which would be too late to change the date back to May, even if caps were lifted.
Agfest chairman Caine Evans said the decision to postpone Agfest until August was a difficult one.
“However, it was a sensible one given we require six months of event preparations and considering the financial impact that the current Event Framework could have on exhibitors and the uncertainty of the impact of Covid-19 in the Tasmanian community once borders opened,” he said.
“We will continue to work with our stakeholders and the Tasmanian Government to ensure a viable and safe Agfest 2022.
“We will be working overtime to make it a roaring success.
“With the current Public Health Events Framework limiting crowds to 5000 patrons, it was not a financially viable option for Rural Youth to run the event in May.
“Taking the plunge and shifting the date took a lot of courage.”
Mr Evans said everyone cared for the event and the benefits it brought to the organisation and the Tasmanian community.
“I am proud of my team for making such a tough call, they can all hold their heads high.
“With a positive mindset, the committee is powering on to make sure we bring you an incredible event in August.”
Agfest, held at Quercus Park near Carrick, is organised and run by Rural Youth volunteers and for more than 30 years has been held in May.
The volunteers’ submission to increase capacity of Agfest to 15,000 patrons plus exhibitors and event staff on site each day, was rejected by the Government.
As a result, the Rural Youth Organisation of Tasmania postponed Agfest 2022, from May 4 to 7 until August 24-to-27, because of concerns on running an economically viable event in May with a cap of 5000.
Agfest is an agricultural tradition and has been part of the rural landscape since the early 1980s, being held in May for more than 30 years.
The Rural Youth calendar will look a bit different next year – Young Farmer Run-offs will be held in late March and the final will be brought forward to the end of May.
Rural Youth’s State Ball will be held on February 12 in the south.