Saturday, 6 May 2017

Tocal Field Days 2017 - showcasing all the best about country life!

The Tocal Field Days have been a highlight on the Hunter Valley's calendar for more than 30 years. Yesterday I went along to the first day of this year's 2017 Field Days. They will continue today, with the last day tomorrow, Sunday.

Even though I am not a farmer, I discovered a lot to do and see. There are a large number of exhibits, displays and attractions to wander around and see to fill in the day.

I travelled down to Maitland by train, then hopped on the free shuttle bus that leaves Maitland Station on the hour every hour. It was only a short trip through Lorne to the Tocal Filed Days site, where the bus dropped of passengers at the main gate.

As I arrived at lunch time. I headed straight to the Good Food and Wine hall, where various producers had tastings and goodies for sale. A Bake and Burn Competition is also held there.

I then headed out to the main display area, and found the Eat Street and Bar area, where local community groups had stalls selling various take-away and sit down food and drink. I chose a steak sandwich and kept on walking along the various streets lined with many exhibitors stands. There items large and small  were on display- tractors, lawn mowers, clothing, tools, fencing, quad bikes, cooking equipment, chainsaws and the list goes on.

I ventured down to the huge covered arena, the home of 'Tocal on Show'. This is where the students of Tocal Agricultural Centre proudly present some of what they learn in their study courses. I was there when the Tocal Horse Course display was being prsented. This is where the Tocal Stock Horse students, together their lecturers Warwick Lawrence and Simone Harvey, displayed some of their horse education skills.
Other demonstration each day include fencing, chainsaw operation, quad and motorbike handling, identifying weeds and grasses, drenching cattle, hoof trimming for cattle, selecting a steer, and mustering by horseback. 

I saw a variety of animals on display in the livestock exhibitors area - alpacas, poultry, cattle, and goats. There were some very brightly coloured chooks on display. I missed out on seeing the piglet races, with the addition this year of chooks racing as well. 

After waking through a large lifestyle marquee displaying various products suitable for using in the home, I went to the bus stop to catch the free shuttle bus to the historic Tocal Homestead. I arrived just in time to listen to an informative 15 minute talk on the history of the homestead given under the shade of a tree planed 170 years ago. I then explored some of the rooms on display in the homestead, then went outside and saw the various old colonial farm buildings dating from the 1870s, many made with convict labour. 

The blacksmiths shop was giving demonstrations of heating up metal and twisting them into various articles. There was a display of old farm machinery and sheep being shorn. I had a cart ride with Harry the Clydesdale.

As it was afternoon tea time, I enjoyed some coffee and fresh scones (with jam and cream) cooked on the wood stove in the homestead kitchen. 

I then went and caught the shuttle bus back to the main Field Days site, where I wandered along some of the other streets I had not been along in the morning. It was fascinating to see the variety of items being exhibited and for sale.

I then wandered through some of the craft exhibits in and around the college buildings, then went out to the land, plants and environment exhibitions. Here various community groups, government departments and businesses had displays and gave out information in marquees and stands. Several nurseries were there selling plants suitable for home gardens and farms.

It was then time to board the shuttle bus back to Maitland Station to catch the train home.

I had a very enjoyable day at the Tocal Field Days, and was impressed by many and varied exhibitions, displays and range of activities. I would recommend people to go either today or tomorrow so that they too can experience the Tocal Filed Days. As an added bonus, an extensive entertainment program of singers and bands will be held on these two days at the Main Stage, the Wedge, and the Homestead. To find out more information and to see the extensive program of demonstrations and activities, click on the Tocal Filed Days website here .

Tocal Field Days

When: 5, 6, 7 May
Address: Tocal Agricultural Centre, 815 Tocal Rd, Tocal NSW 2421
Ph: 02 4939 8820
TICKETS: ADULT $18, SENIOR $13, CHILDREN (5 - 16 years) $1

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