Potato Festival bares legacy of independent region

Joyce Edwards (middle) with volunteers on the day.
Joyce Edwards (middle) with volunteers on the day.

On paper, it was a horrible day for the Crookwell Potato Festival.

On Friday, there were reports of snow in the Shire.

The longer-than-expected dry and hot summer broke when snow cloaked the region, turning pastures white. 

But hot spuds could fix everything! At least, they could in Crookwell.

It was cold on the Saturday, the sun was cheekily playing peek-a-boo and rain spat down; first slowly, than with intent.

But people continued to walk into the Showgrounds, almost oblivious to the weather and muddy landscape.

Festival chair Joyce Edwards (pictured) was stationed at the information desk, sitting in a wheelchair, recovering from a fall.

But it was business as usual for the organiser who planned most of the event from her hospital room.

“Everyone is loving it,” she said, peering over the bench. “It’s going to be a good day.” 

And it was.

The first box of Andean sunrise potatoes were auctioned for more than $2000, nearly double last year’s amount.

Most of the money will go to the Upper Lachlan Foundation and the Crookwell Potato Festival.

Indoors, TV personality Costa Georgiadis was carted from group to group. Photos and selfies almost always ensued. In between the adults, he was found talking to younger children, sharing gardening tips.

Even the ambassador for Ireland, Breandan O’Caollai, was in good spirits, judging both the car show and the potato-decorating competition.

Potatoes, stalls and activities were on display, but more so, it was the resourcefulness of the region that stood out.

Two elderly men were standing outside the pavilion watching people enter the Showgrounds.

“These Crookwell folk, they’re a strong bunch,” one said to the other.

“If this was in Goulburn, or even Sydney, no one would come out. They really support their own.” 

In an age of self-help books and do-it-yourself manuals, the Upper Lachlan projected an unwavering independence.

It was inspiring to see. 

Cultivation wasn’t a response to overpriced vegetables or a viral celebrity article. It was a choice, passed down for generations and proudly displayed.

This festival is a product of this will – this legacy.