A challenge to create a COVID-safe Agfest has been met with gusto by Rural Youth Tasmania.
The organisation announced on Wednesday that Agfest 2021 would return to its Quercus Park site at Carrick, after consultation with Public Health and the state government.
Agfest chairman Ethan Williams, who will man the helm for his second Agfest event, said returning the event to its rightful home at Quercus Park was incredibly crucial to the group.
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“It’s fairly important for Tasmania, with what’s happened over the last six months; there’s a lot of exhibitor’s businesses who are struggling at the moment,” Mr Williams said.
“If we can do our part to support them and get Tasmanians behind Agfest, it’s going to be a huge opportunity for the event and the state.”
Agfest attracts 60,000 people to Tasmania over the three days of the event and contributes more than $20 million into the state’s economy each year.
“We were heartbroken to cancel Agfest 2020 in the paddock, but thanks to the resilience of our volunteers and a much-appreciated grant from the Tasmanian Government, we were able to move the event into the cloud and attract more than one million page views.”
While Agfest will return to its traditional home in the paddock, it will be under a new look and layout.
Firstly, Agfest will be run over four days next year, from May 5-8 and tickets will be primarily sold online to allow for contact tracing.
Mr Williams said there would be food vendors spread out across the site, instead of localised to one area, and there would be more entries and exits for patrons.
The changes include:
- The event will run in the paddock for four days, instead of three
- All tickets will be pre-sold online for contact tracing;
- Hand sanitiser stations will be positioned on the site;
- Exhibitors will be required to develop COVID-19 safety plans and control visitor numbers to their stands;
- The craft market will be moved from the large sheds to a new area to encourage safer traffic flow and;
- A new strategy involving the dispersal of food vendors to different areas around the site has been developed to further minimise congestion at peak eating times.
Mr Williams said the cancellation of this year’s event had been an incredibly hard one to make for the entire committee.
However, it was particularly hard for him, as this year would have been his first event as chairman.
“However, we are a determined bunch of passionate young Tasmanians, and we have decided to have a crack at organising Agfest 2021 back in the paddock because, at the end of the day, that’s what we do best,” he said.
Rural Youth Tasmania lost $500,000 due to the cancellation of this year’s Agfest, but Mr Williams said their focus was looking forward, not back.
“We’re hoping everyone gets behind us and jumps on board to get Agfest moving again,” he said.
Agfest in the cloud will also return for the 2021 event and will run for two weeks from May 8 after the paddock event closes.
Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett said Agfest was a significant event for Tasmania and it was only right to see it returned to Quercus Park in a COVID-safe manner.
“Agfest is a significant contributor to our economy and an important event for our primary industries sector, and this is a good outcome that will provide a much-needed boost for exhibitors. It will also help to support our vision to grow the farm-gate value of agriculture to $10 billion by 2050,” he said.