The continued success of Clunes Booktown and Trentham Spudfest is good news for Hepburn Shire. Drawing thousands of visitors to the region over the weekend, the events serve as a boost to local business, an exciting potential for tourism and an opportunity for locals to come together to celebrate identity.
The community effort and support behind both Booktown and Spudfest is commendable. More than 100 local volunteers made Spudfest happen and a passionate team of book lovers have worked to put Clunes on not just the national, but international map.
Clunes, as a member of the International Organisation of Book Towns, will host the International Conference of Booktowns next year, which will attract visitors from all over the world to the town.
The excitement around the international event is clear when speaking to Creative Clunes CEO Richard Mackay-Scollay. The achievement is a testament to the passionate team behind Booktown, which was originally created with the intention of securing the long-term future of Clunes. Attracting around 18,000 visitors each year and running for its 11th year, the success Booktown has brought to Clunes is evident.
Trentham Spudfest similarly has worked to put Trentham on the map, while celebrating an industry important to the town’s history and identity and encouraging fresh produce.
Trentham is at risk of losing a part of it’s history and identity as the number of potato farms in the area continues to decline. As local farmers have expressed, it is difficult for small farms to compete with imports and large corporations and is almost financially impossible to expand their farms due to the out-of-reach cost of land, modern farming equipment, and paying wages to an employee. Adding to the difficulty of expanding local farms is the cost of insurance and ensuring operations meet Work Safe requirements.
Spudfest provides hope for local potato farmers by promoting locally grown fresh potatoes and encouraging people from as far as Melbourne to value the love and care that goes into growing potatoes on small local farms, where potatoes are most often sold the same week they are dug from the soil.
Promoting and encouraging consumers to buy fresh and buy local will ensure small local potato farms can continue on the rich, volcanic Trentham land for generations to come, preserving family history and regional identity.