Stage set for event of the year

PERFECT weather conditions have given Agfest organisers plenty to smile about this week as the count- down to Tasmania’s biggest rural event begins.

The gates to Quercus Park will open on Thursday and committee chairman Caine Evans said they are hoping Tasmanians will come out in droves to support Agfest this year.

“The weather has certainly held out for us which is fantastic,” he said.

“Hopefully that will continue into next week so we can get as many people through the gates as possible.”

After being forced to delay last year’s Agfest until August due to Covid crowd restrictions, Mr Evans said they were thrilled to have the event back in its traditional May time slot.

“The feedback from our exhibitors has been fantastic and hopefully the patrons as well will march with their feet, so we’re really stoked to be here back in May,” he said.

“We can’t thank our exhibitors enough, especially those who are returning. It is a big effort seven months after so that’s amazing.”

Agfest is run by a large group of Rural Youth volunteers, many of whom will move on site from today onwards to help with final preparations.

Committee vice chairman Dylan Bellchambers said online ticket sales are progressing steadily, but a lot of people will most likely wait to see the weather forecast before deciding which days to attend.

Mr Evans said they are hoping for a bumper crowd this year.

“It would be nice to see 60,000 go through the gate, but that is probably optimistic coming off August,” he said.

Operations manager Matthew Wadley said they have completed a number of road upgrades since the August event, after very wet conditions caused damage in some areas.

“South street, north street and fourth avenue have all be re-sheeted and are a bit more stable now, after the wet conditions last year they had deteriorated a bit,” he said.

“Hopefully now if we do get rain, the water will flow away off site and not bog up the site too much.”

Exhibitor manager Ashley Evans said the site was now completely full and they have a short waiting list of exhibitors who would like to get a spot if they can.

“In terms of avenue frontage the site is full, which is great,” she said. “We’ve utilised North, North a lot more this year. We’ve gone all the way back up.”

Mrs Evans this year that part of the site would be home to an agricultural demonstrations area, wood chopping, an animal nursery and food vendors along with a number of other exhibitors.

“Historically people have sort of brushed it off as an area which hasn’t been highly utilised, but this year I think we’ re challenging that notion,” she said.

Mr Bellchambers said they have a large group of volunteers helping to run the event this year.

“I’m really excited about the number of members we have this year,” he said.

“We’ve got about 120 volunteers and we haven’t seen those sort of numbers in a few years. So not only is the event strong, but so is the membership base that’s running it.”

The average age of Agfest volunteers now is 21.

After taking a significant financial hit through the Covid period, Mr Evans said the organisation should be back on track after this year’s Agfest and will have the capacity to continue investing in improving infrastructure across the site.

While Agfest is the biggest event held at Quercus Park, the committee is now also focusing on making site a multi-use venue, which can be utilised throughout the year.