Im­pressed with Toc. fes­ti­val

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

Dear ed­i­tor, Last week­end I ex­pe­ri­enced the Straw­berry Fields fes­ti­val for the first time, help­ing out on the lo­cal com­mu­nity bar­be­cue.

Had I known what a won­der­ful event this was I would have been there 10 years ago, although pos­si­bly not wear­ing fes­ti­val cos­tume. I was com­pletely blown away by the level of or­gan­i­sa­tion and ded­i­ca­tion of the young trio who put this event on, Billy, Tara and El­liot.

Hav­ing in the past held par­ties for my own chil­dren up to around 200 peo­ple, the prospect of en­ter­tain­ing 8,000 is sim­ply ter­ri­fy­ing.

Tracks had been ex­pertly graded to pro­vide wide roads for buses and cars. There were let­ters to neigh­bours (tucked into fence posts for those with­out mail­boxes), alert­ing peo­ple to the event and pro­vid­ing phone num­bers for en­quiries.

Po­lice wan­dered the event and were paid for by the fes­ti­val. Ac­cu­rate and ex­tremely vis­i­ble self test­ing sta­tions were avail­able for al­co­hol and drugs within the grounds. There was a huge com­mit­ment to re­cy­cling with large wa­ter tanks po­si­tioned around the grounds for fill­ing re­us­able wa­ter bot­tles in or­der to elim­i­nate plas­tic bot­tles. All cups and food con­tain­ers were re­cy­clable too.

Wa­ter trucks pa­trolled the whole event help­ing to keep the dust down and the med­i­cal tent on site was well equipped and cen­tral to the fes­ti­val. Food stalls were di­verse and plen­ti­ful and no al­co­hol was served at the fes­ti­val. Pun­ters could bring their own. There was an in­for­ma­tion cen­tre with a dio­rama of the en­tire fes­ti­val lay­out and maps, sig­nage and in­for­ma­tion book­lets for those whose sense of di­rec­tion was dodgy.

As for the pun­ters them­selves, I think I must have served a few thou­sand peo­ple food and ev­ery sin­gle one of them were happy, well man­nered young peo­ple just want­ing a good time. At 57 years of age and wan­der­ing around the stun­ning in­stal­la­tions and stage sets I was some­what of a nov­elty and many party go­ers ap­proached me to see if I was en­joy­ing the week­end. The in­stal­la­tions were in­cred­i­ble.

Con­trary to pop­u­lar dis­cus­sion, the or­gan­is­ers do not make a for­tune out of the event and this par­tic­u­lar fes­ti­val is the first one that has re­turned them a rea­son­able salary. They all have other busi­nesses sup­port­ing them through­out the year and choose to con­tinue this fes­ti­val in the man­ner they started; as three good friends hold­ing an event to get young peo­ple to­gether and cel­e­brate com­mu­nity and lo­cal tal­ent.

It is no mean feat and takes months of plan­ning even though ‘bump in’ is only a few short weeks and the week ‘bump­ing out’ is la­bo­ri­ous work re­cy­cling all items left and sep­a­rat­ing re­cy­clable rub­bish and do­nat­able items for lo­cal char­i­ties.

There are also many meet­ings with lo­cal coun­cil and lo­cal busi­ness peo­ple and even a bar­be­cue pro­vided free of charge for any lo­cal peo­ple want­ing to have a look around on the evening be­fore the fes­ti­val be­gins. Sure there were those for whom mod­er­a­tion was not a by­word and were at times a lit­tle the worse for wear, but their mates, other rev­ellers and the vol­un­teers kept a good eye on any­one feel­ing un­der the weather.

I had a ball and loved watch­ing so many young peo­ple have a great time. I reckon the or­gan­is­ers of the Mel­bourne Cup could take a leaf out of their book. Yours etc. Louise Yates Tocumwal

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