Thou­sands to de­scend on Camp Oven Fes­ti­val

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Front Page - CAS­SAN­DRA GLOVER Cas­san­dra.glover@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

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.

PHO­TOS: LEAH GRUN­DON

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.

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