The Gunns Plains Potato Festival started in 2008. Since then, the small community has been whole-heartedly pulling together to support the event that helps to keep the country town hall running. In our modern-day, busy lifestyle that’s not a common concept. But this festival is one of few remaining old-fashioned, little country town get-togethers.

Gunns Plains Potato Festival - David Foster

Champion axeman David Foster judges potatoes

Potato Festival: Gunns Plains

by Michelle Kneipp Pegler

Picture perfect weather greeted this year’s Gunns Plains Potato Festival, which is held on the Monday of the Recreation Day holiday long weekend. When I arrived, champion axeman David Foster was at his charismatic best. He was judging the potato cooking competitions and having an excellent time sampling all the mashed potato entries. Some had interesting ingredients added to them, such as horseradish, as well as other sweet and savoury dishes. David has always been very generous with his time in helping out small communities such as Gunns Plains.

Other competitions dotted around the hall were…

  • the longest potato peel
  • colour the potato man
  • weirdest/funniest looking potato
  • and the best potato face, man, animal or object

There were lots of very creative pieces on display in this last section and it looked like the younger kids had great fun, allowing their artistic talent to shine through. There was a display of various types of potatoes along with some history of potato growing in Tasmania. Potatoes have been grown in Tasmania since 1803.

Gunns Plains Potato Festival - Mr Potato Head Competition!

Mr Potato Head at Gunns Plains

Gunns Plains Potato Festival Cookbook

The hall canteen was filled with the appetizing smell of all things potato being cooked and served. Judging by the line up of people it was very popular! So I joined the queue and feasted on one of the many potato dishes on offer. Did you know there are 26 common potato varieties grown in Tasmania? Last year the festival saw the launch of the Gunns Plains Potato Festival Cookbook with 138 recipes from sweet to savoury. Who would have thought there would be so many things you could cook with the good old potato?

Spud Cake - Gunns Plains Potato Festival Cookbook

The Gunns Plains Potato Festival recipe book

It was good to see Daniel Williams there with his Chefs Toolbox stall doing cooking demonstrations with a range of great looking cookware. Daniel has been attending small town events, giving these communities a chance to see what you’d expect to see only at big craft fairs.

Amongst the things to do during the afternoon were potato races held for men, ladies and the kids. Competitors had to run around a course carrying a bag of potatoes: 20kg for men; 10kg for women and less for kids. There were eager competitors for each event and the crowd enjoyed themselves immensely, cheering on all the entrants and encouraging even those who didn’t win.

Potato throwing and potato bagging competitions were held as well. After all that exertion the ice cream van did a good trade selling lip-smacking, cold, fresh raspberry ice creams and fresh strawberries. It was much appreciated on such a warm day.

Michelle Kneipp Pegler - Leven River Farm

Leven River Farm: Gunns Plains

It was great to see so many people attending the Gunns Plains Potato Festival, which is a major fundraiser for the maintenance of the hall. The hall is used for many other activities throughout the year. Well done to everyone involved, especially the committee members and volunteers who tirelessly work behind the scenes to make these events happen.

Michelle Kneipp Pegler writes a blog called Leven River Farm about the ups and downs of her Good Life and occasional forays delving into the lessons of the past.

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Map: Gunns Plains Potato Festival…

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