Imagine Agfest with one car park and one ticket box.

EVENTFUL EVOLUTION: Festivale chairman David Dunn and past Agfest chairman has watched the field days develop. Picture: Scott Gelston
EVENTFUL EVOLUTION: Festivale chairman David Dunn and past Agfest chairman has watched the field days develop. Picture: Scott Gelston

He may be the Festivale chairman now, but David Dunn cut his event management teeth at Agfest over many years.

Joining Rural Youth in 1992, Mr Dunn volunteered at that year’s Agfest and then became a committee member the following year, helping out with promotion and the ticket box.

Over the next 12 years he took on other positions as the catering manager, treasurer and vice chairman before becoming the Agfest chairman in 2006.

Mr Dunn recalls how different the Quercus Park site was more than 25 years ago.

Successive Agfest committees have worked to enhance various sections of the Carrick site using money from fundraising and sponsorship.

“In the early days we had one ticket box and one car park. One year we had a bumper crowd and our neighbours gave us permission to use their land, so at 11am on the Saturday we were cutting fences, waving cars into a paddock and selling tickets off the back of a flat-tray ute,” he said.

“Back then all the craft exhibits were in marquees. Down the track we took the plunge and built the sheds.”

More of the site became powered, but there were still sections run by generator.

“The site has grown, but infrastructure costs are always a huge burden,” Mr Dunn said.

...at 11am on the Saturday we were cutting fences, waving cars into a paddock and selling tickets off the back of a flat-tray ute.

David Dunn

Any expansion plans were always undertaken on the assumption that the site would eventually be fully powered and serviced by roads.

“In the last five or six years [Rural Youth] has put a lot of work into keeping Agfest fresh,” he said.

“We need to keep people coming back, and that’s where the development of the equine area, craft pavilions, Tasmanian produce in the food areas, demonstrations and attractions comes from.”

Since 1992 Mr Dunn has noticed changes at the Agfest site, but also in the amount of red tape, legal, safety and crime management factors involved in putting on an event.

“For a volunteer organisation like Rural Youth it’s a large undertaking,” he said.

The first Agfest field days were held at Symmons Plains over two days in May 1983 and became a three-day event the following year.