I can proudly say that I am no longer an AGFEST virgin!
Forget Tasmania, AGFEST is one of Australia’s largest public events, bringing together the farming community over a shared love of fine produce, quality stock and bloody big ‘boys’ toys!
Run every year since 1983, AGFEST was initially located at Perth, but as a result of its massive popularity in 1986 they purchased land at Carrick and established a permanent long term home for the event, now known as the Quercus Rural Youth Park.
Almost entirely run by volunteers, namely the Rural Youth Organisation of Tasmania, AGFEST is, “A Tasmanian success story…a story about the agricultural community, about the young people who work hard to present this event and a story about future successes…”
And it IS a success story, with up to 75,000 attendees flocking to the event every year!
I’m not a farmer. I will never be a farmer. Forget the green thumbs, mine are black! So why would AGFEST be of any interest to me?
While I do actually have a history of farming in my family, the main reason is that the team I work with have a strong and ongoing relationship with landowners across the state, many of which include in the farming community. AGFEST provides us with the perfect vehicle for maintaining that strong relationship and for providing a public forum by which we can enter into a conversation with our landowners or other entities affected by the distribution and transmission of electricity over their land.
While there, I took the opportunity to have a wander around the massive site and to get a feeling for what AGFEST is all about. Considering the miserable weather that had arrived overnight I was amazed to see more than 15,000 punters, many in traditional Aussie moleskins and Akubra, (others in some pretty hardcore looking camouflage clothing!!), joining me in perusing the various store holders wares.
I expected it to be extremely messy, with shin high mud and wellington boots the order of the day. While it WAS a little on the muddy side, I was very impressed by the design of the wide, compressed earth paths that wove their way between the exhibitors. They kept the mess to an absolute minimum and prevented anyone from inadvertently ending up on their backside! I feel a little sorry for the many parents there though, as the kids were just loving the mud puddles that lined the paths. I wish I could have joined them!
I absolutely loved watching the sheep herding skills on display, but amongst the machinery, arts and crafts and hardware I inevitably found myself drawn to the many stalls offering temptations of the edible kind.
There were numerous food vendors scattered across the site, of which I grabbed a few photos below, but the epicentre of it all was the “Betta Milk Unique Tastes Pavilion”, located on the eastern edge of the site.
Adjacent to and inside the food pavilion was a very welcoming range of food stalls, many of which were new to me. I was expecting the same old range that we get served up at The Taste every year, but was delighted to have some new foods to try!
I had heard very good reports of the food produced by the Cable Station Restaurant, located in Stanley on Tasmania’s far north-west coast, so I thought I’d try their char-grilled octopus with basil pesto and balsamic ($14).
They were doing a roaring trade and were doling out numbered slips that they would call out when your meal was ready. I could have thrown mine out though, as I immediately became known as the ‘Day-glo Man’, courtesy of the bright orange fluorescent jacket that I was wearing at the time!
Considering the environment, the conditions and the sheer number of meals these guys were producing I was very impressed with this effort. While it was lacking a little in ‘char’, the octopus was cooked very nicely. Meaty, no rubbery texture, and the pesto and balsamic combination worked really nicely together, particularly with a squeeze of the complimentary lemon over the top as well. The bread on the side was the perfect accompaniment, being put to good use at the end to mop up the leftovers!
For dessert my eye was caught by a couple of venues…
I know nothing at all about this venue, except that they are located in Deloraine and that they are the preferred ice cream of horses. Can anyone out there help me out with a bit more info?
While I do enjoy my ice cream, I couldn’t go past a big slice of hot apple crumble and cream…
Again, I hadn’t heard of Kel’s Krumble Kreations previously, and my life has been suffering for it’s lack!! Similar to the Creamery, I know nothing about this stall and can’t find anything online. Any takers?
This was home cooking at its finest and the perfect way to finish off my meal!
Other stalls in and around the pavilion included…
Osakan Soul was a very interesting stall, which again was new to me. They are based in Launceston and specialise in the Japanese delicacy known as okonomiyaki (savoury pancake). Making their first appearance at AGFEST, they had a bacon okonomiyaki on the menu, which I’m sure would have appealed to many AGFEST attendees. I initially thought that these okonomiyaki were quite westernised as they didn’t look at all like the okonomiyaki that we tried in Hiroshima. However, I’ve subsequently been informed that the okonomiyaki served in Osaka is actually very different to that served in Hiroshima, with Osakan Soul serving up a dish that is actually quite authentic. Disappointed I didn’t try them now…
After adequately satiating my hunger, and almost purchasing a BBQ from one fast talking salesman, I found myself joining the hordes as we slowly negotiated our way back to the highway and onwards to Hobart.
AGFEST isn’t just for farmers. Whether it’s face painting for the kids, heritage steam engines, BMW ‘M’ series sports cars, ploughs the size of jumbo jets, or a simple lace doily, I can guarantee that there will be something at AGFEST that appeals to both you and your family. Today’s the last day, so this is probably going to be a little late, but don’t procrastinate, get down there and see what it’s all about!