Agfest gives disease the boot

AGFEST patrons should add one more step to their annual boot regime. Find them. Knock last year’s mud off the soles. Check that spiders haven’t made a home in the toes and then, most importantly, wash them at the Quercus Park gate when entering and leaving.

The introduction of boot washing stations is an infection control measure against Foot and Mouth Disease following the detection of viral fragments of the disease in meat products in Melbourne supermarkets recently.

For first-time Agfest chair Caine Evans it’s one more small hurdle he knows everyone will willingly jump to experience the return of a fully fledged field day to the paddock at Carrick on August 24-27.

“The main thing is that we’re back in the paddock and there are no number restrictions,” Mr Evans said. “The threat of FMD is to be taken seriously to keep our livestock industry safe and as well as the foot baths we will be restricting the movement of onlookers around animals but not obstructing their view of the action. “Our motto will be ‘Come clean, go clean’.

Mr Evans said he was proud of how resilient and flexible Rural Youth Tasmania and its 135 volunteers had been in organising Agfest, and he was grateful exhibitors had stayed loyal. “The good news is that there will be more than 500 stallholders, the entry fee has not increased despite increasing costs for us, and we have a chance to return to attendances pre-Covid of around 55-65,000 people through the gate,” he said. “It was a difficult decision to move the date from May to August, but it’s one that I feel has paid off. We’re still recommending that visitors wear face masks, especially indoors.”

Agfest highlights this year include the return of Brian Fish and his bullock team; the Tasmanian Hospitality Association building with expanded choices in high-end beers, wines and other beverages plus quality eateries; Australian Light Horse displays; Junior Farmer Challenge and sheep dog trials.