The Eastern Bay AgFest is returning to Opotiki this month – and this year has a broader focus and involves a wider range of community organisations, says organising committee member Sandra Elia.
The event, in its second year, was born out of a recognition “that the traditional A&P Show format was no longer meeting the needs of the community,” says Sandra. “And so Opotiki A&P Society set about building an event that did.”
Entry to this year’s November 9 AgFest at Opotiki War Memorial Park is by gold coin, but exhibitors don’t pay anything to be part of the day, says Sandra.
“It’s part of our kaupapa. Our priority is to celebrate our rural community. At this point, and as we build momentum for AgFest, our focus is on community engagement. We’re intentionally taking a holistic approach to arrangements.
“We want to focus not just on the agricultural side of things, but also support the mental wellbeing of our community, the work of our community groups, schools and our local businesses.”
About 70 exhibitors are expected at AgFest 2019, says Sandra, with the Mussel Festival being a real drawcard.
The mussel shucking competition at 10am, supported by local deep-sea mussel farm Whakatohea Mussels, is expected to be popular. Shucked mussels don’t go to waste, says Sandra. “They’re turned into seafood chowder, mussel fritters and other delicious delicacies by local schools to support their fundraising efforts.”
Working in partnership with the local community is a hallmark of the new-look event, and so AgFest 2019 will again feature a Sustainable Art competition where local high school students create a 3D art piece using sustainable materials.
Artwork is on display at AgFest and the winner of the Nga Whenua Rahui, Department of Conservation and BOPRC-sponsored competition, wins a trip to nearby Motuohora Island.
Other highlights are the gumboot throwing competition and fencing contest. A new addition is a baby animal petting zoo, giving young children the opportunity to interact with and feed baby ducklings, piglets and other animals, says Sandra.
Plus a dog agility demonstration and live music from local artists are also lined up.
Sandra says learnings from last year’s AgFest are helping organisers make this year’s event bigger and better. “Sustainability, music and wellbeing are big features, but as more resources become available other areas like a job expo to match employers with potential employees are among the priorities for future AgFests.”
Sandra says A&P Society chairperson Robynne Tibble has been instrumental in getting AgFest off the ground. “Robynne has had the passion, energy, drive and experience to get things going.”
The Eastern Bay AgFest is on November 9 from 10am-3pm at Opotiki War Memorial Park.