Thousands to descend on Camp Oven Festival
THE Australian Camp Oven Festival is one for the bucket list, drawing thousands of people from all over Australia.
The festival has been held every second year in Millmerran since 1999.
The last festival hosted between 6000 and 7000 people.
“We have actually sold out of camp sites this year for the first time,” event co-ordinator, Katrina Grundon, said.
“The event is growing all the time.
“I think we have people from every state coming this year, which is really great.
“It’s a chance to experience a bit of country hospitality and take in a slower pace.”
Ms Grundon said the event was a really big deal for the small town.
“It’s good for the town economically, but also really good socially,” she said.
“People get to talk to a lot of new people and the community groups get to show off what they do to a new audience.”
The event was started as a camp oven cooking competition by outback icons Ned Winter and Gary Fogarty and has grown to include a number of activities including damper throwing, billy boiling, bush poetry, shearing demonstrations and bush craft displays.
Lynette Pearce from Pittsworth will be judging the camp oven cooking competitions this year.
Ms Pearce has been cooking, competing and judging since the ’80s but it will be her first time judging the camp oven competition.
At previous festivals Ms Pearce was the food co-ordinator for the public.
“I’m looking forward to it,” she said.
“I’m a cookery judge. I judge at the local shows, the Toowoomba Show and the Ekka.
“There are different categories. There’s beginners, intermediate and an open competition.
“For the open competition they have to cook a roast, and also sweets.”
The entry fee for the cooking competition is $100 for a four-person team, including a camp site.
The prize for the champion is $1980.
Ms Pearce said the camp oven competition would be like a typical bush camp cook-up.
“You don’t have silver cutlery or anything flash,” she said.
“Enamel or tin plates, no good china or anything like that.”
Ms Pearce knows exactly what she is looking for in camp oven cooking.
“Taste, the tenderness of the meat,” she said.
“If it’s a damper you look for evenness of the browning and any sort of air bubbles through it.
“It really comes down to the judge’s own personal taste, that’s the main factor really.”
There are a number of challenges to cooking in a camp oven, according to Ms Pearce.
“You’re fighting the elements all the time,” she said.
“Wind can drop the temperature in the camp oven quite a few degrees.
“You’ve got to get the temperature right.
“They can burn very easily in a camp oven.
“You’ve got to keep the heat up to it. Keep your coals hot all the time so you don’t lose the heat in your oven. Especially when you’re cooking the roast you need to keep it hot.”
Ms Pearce said she has done a lot of cooking in camp ovens with a “good old-fashioned beef stew” being her favourite camp oven recipe.
This year the Australian Camp Oven Festival will be held from October 5–7 with cooking events on October 6 and 7.
“It’s a big festival and it’s something people should put on their bucket list,” Ms Pearce said.
HOT COMPETITION: Nev Owers participates in the billy boiling competition at the Australian Camp Oven Festival.
The Australian Camp Oven Festival should be on everyone’s bucket list according to Lynnette Pearce.