Past and present of humble spud celebrated
“I think this just shows that the old country ways are still alive and valued in places like this. Forget your social media, children here still enjoy the simple things,” she said.
“This community really is like an extended family and festivals such as this bring us all together.”
Ms Mitos and her partner recently bought the Gunns Plains general store she hopes will reopen early next year.
The popular festival was cancelled last year after devastating floods swept through the town.
A bridge across the Leven River was washed away, the local wildlife park took a hammering and paddocks were flooded. Nine families were isolated.
At the time, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association said bout 20 per cent of Tasmania’s potato crops had been lost.
During Tasmania’s potato boom in 1855 a tonne of spuds fetched 22 pounds at port.
However, prices dived the following year and many farmers wondered if it was worth continuing to dedicate land to the crop.
But in 2017 the industry has a farm gate value of $82.5m and about 360,000 tonnes of potatoes are grown in Tasmania’s North-West each year for the commercial market.
Harvesting the crop is much faster these days with a three-person mechanical harvester crew being able to collect 100 tonnes a day.
The state grows 25 per cent of the nation’s total potato harvest.
About 90 per cent of the spuds grown in the state go to factories churning out frozen chips and hash browns for KFC, McCain, Bird’s Eye and McDonalds.