Crowds vote with (muddy) feet

CROWDS braved the muddy carparks and the ominous forecasts to get back into the field for this year’s Agfest.

More than 50,000 people made their way through the gate by the weekend with pre-sale tickets proving to be no obstacle in getting the field day regulars back into the paddock.

Agfest chairman Caine Evans said the patron numbers had the Rural Youth team feeling the love from the Tasmanian rural community.

“We’re still pumped with the number of people that came through the gate considering the weather and the carparks,” Mr Evans said.

There typically isn’t an Agfest without rain and though the sky stayed reasonably clear throughout the event’s running days, the previous week’s heavy rains were the cause of some headaches for patrons and organisers alike.

A significant number of cars required towing from the soaked soil across Thursday morning, afternoon and night, leading to significant works on the carpark roads overnight.

While this somewhat improved the conditions for the following day, Mr Evans said the treatment of some of the Rural Youth volunteers by understandably frustrated patrons was still unacceptable.

“Sadly across Thursday and Friday morning some of our patrons were a little too vocal about their frustrations with the carpark” Mr Evans said.

“That abuse was simply not on”
“These are 15- to 30-year-olds who give up their time to volunteer and it led to us pulling those volunteers away.

“Thankfully we could call on older Rural Youth members to come in and volunteer their time to help manage the car park for the remainder of the days.”

Even despite the gravel-reinforced roads, the mud continued to be a thorn in the sides of organisers, despite the balmy weather drying the fields over Thursday and Friday.

“On Friday we saw the conditions of the carpark continue to worsen and we made the executive call to stop ticket sales for the following day,” Mr Evans said.

“We’d seen the sales for Saturday were already very high and going up in increments of 500 every few minutes.

“It came down to a safety issue for the patrons and the volunteers and we deemed it too risky.”

Despite the halting of the ticket sales, just under 20,000 patrons made their way through the gate on Saturday.

Mr Evans said despite the setbacks, the success of the event has the Rural Youth team counting the days until next year’s event.

“We know a lot of farmers were hesitant to buy at this time of year as they’re better set for the May running and that was difficult for a number of our exhibitors.

“But we’re so proud of those exhibitors supporting us through this time, they’ve stuck with us through the year and we’re so, so grateful for that”

“We cannot wait for May 4, 5 and 6 next year.”