28 January 2022

Crookwell Potato Festival announces new date

| Clare McCabe
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Crookwell Potato Festival

Flashback to the Crookwell Potato Festival team in 2018. The event is to be relaunched later this year. Photo: Facebook.

Traditonally held in May, organisers of the Crookwell Potato Festival have announced a new date for 2022 and will relaunch in November.

The Upper Lachlan Shire Council is planning the 2022 festival and is confident it can make a successful comeback from the challenging COVID-19 shutdowns.

“Planning is moving full steam ahead,” Upper Lachlan Shire Council general manager Colleen Worthy said.

“We had it last year and intend to have it again this year – albeit in November at the time of planting rather than harvest, therefore it will not be in direct competition with the Robertson Potato Festival,” she says.

The Robertson Potato Festival will debut on the weekend of April 30 to May 1.

Details of the new Crookwell Potato Festival are yet to be revealed but visitors can expect it to be “bigger and better”.

The council is seeking funding to expand the festival.

“We too believe it is an important event for our shire and look forward to a positive 2022,” Ms Worthy says.

Former president Mandy Mcdonald said the new event will be under the management of the council.

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In 2021, the team of volunteer organisers behind the festival resigned paving the way for the new management.

“When the committee was first formed after the AGM, and we first organised the festival, COVID-19 hadn’t been heard of,” she says.

“It was full steam ahead, and we were expecting everything to go as normal. But then everything around us was being cancelled left, right and centre.”

The organisers adapted to a digital program despite the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions and forced cancellation of events. In 2020, special guests filmed cooking demonstrations using the potato in the virtual Patata Cafe for free viewing.

“We were positive – we were giving the community something and we were getting hits from all around the world,” Mandy says.

Then in 2021, a series of smaller events were held between April 3 to 19.

Crookwell Potato Festival 2021

In 2021, the Peruvian Ambassador to Australia, Miguel Palomino De La Gala was the special guest, pictured here with entertainers. Photo: Elaine Delaney.

“At the end of the day, we didn’t make much money, but we didn’t lose much either, mainly due to the significant grants we attracted,” Mandy says.

“It was fun, it was free, and it brought the community together.”

Despite the success of the last two years, the organisers quit before organising an event in 2022.

Organisers agree the pandemic was just one of the factors influencing their decision, and Another is the debut of the Robertson Potato Festival in April this year. Mandy said visitors would be unlikely to attend both the festivals held in the same month.

Another blow to the festival was the unexpected passing of the Upper Lachlan Shire Council’s tourism manager Andrew Warren in September 2021. Andrew spent more than a decade working alongside the tourism and event organisers.

The Crookwell Potato Festival has run for 11 years to celebrate the district’s 150-year history of potato growing. Around the turn of the century, potatoes were the district’s principal crops and by the 1950s, led the state in the production of certified seed potatoes with 159 of the state’s 235 growers.

Today, there are 20 varieties of seed potato grown in the Crookwell district.

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Dusty Miller4:18 pm 22 May 22

Great idea November sounds great! Speaking of sounds are you going to invite the Bands back down? given enough notice (and a small donation) I’m sure Camden would come as your festival was very popular with most of the band members(a chance for a weekend away from the “Big Smoke”). Contact them and ask – camdencommunityband.org.au

Can’t see any mention of the 2022 dates for the Crookwell Potatoe Festival. Has it been decided yet?

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