Less than an hour away from Taree/Forster is one of the hinterland’s hidden gems – the warmly welcoming and charming village of Comboyne. To experience the beautiful mountain scenery and the friendly hospitality of the locals, make Sunday, September 16 the day you pay a visit to the Comboyne plateau, as the Comboyne Village Fair will be in full swing. With floral displays, live music, children’s entertainment, a parade, street markets, vintage and veteran cars – even lawn mower racing – Donna Lance shares some of the expected highlights of the event …
What’s your association with the Comboyne Village Fair?
My husband, Ray, and I were foundation committee members of the Comboyne War Memorial Hall Inc, which rescued the hall from threatened demolition. I have variously been Secretary and President of the Comboyne War Memorial Hall Inc and have been actively involved in the Fair in many capacities, although mostly publicity in the last few years. I have a good face for radio, so do those interviews with enthusiasm!
What’s the history behind the Fair and the aim of the event?
I was involved from the beginning (last century) in the Fair, which has undergone several transformations and name changes
The first Fair in 1990 was a true community effort to save the hall – all sorts of donated goods, including animals, were auctioned, and the flower display was amazing.
As we started to attract grants from various levels of government, and most were on a ‘dollar for dollar’ basis, we decided to make the Fair an annual event to fund reconstruction, and the enormous recurring costs associated with operating such a large community facility – especially insurances. Firstly, we replaced the foundations – all volunteer labour. Then we re-roofed the building, rewired it, and re-clad it in local hardwood, especially made to match the existing profiles
The work has continued, with stage extension and interior upgrades to lighting and decor, preserving the original character and period of the building (circa 1922).
We decided not to hold our Fair in 2000, when we would have been in direct competition with the Sydney Olympics. All our local resources had gone south – even buses!
We wrote in editorials that we didn’t want to attract the crowds away from the Olympics! Remarkably, people returned to visit in 2001.
The Fair grew and became Comboyne Spring Festival, with a lot more cultural activities – talent quests, dance, music and poetry. This will be the second year it has been named Comboyne Village Fair.
When and where will the Fair be held this year?
This year the Fair will be held on Sunday 16 September, with activities and attractions at the Comboyne War Memorial Hall, in the township, and at the showground.
Times listed are 9am to 3pm, and the parade of interesting vehicles will take place at 10am from Ponsfords Rd west of town in to the showground, where the Car Club Capers will be held.
What are some of the attractions on offer this year, and what will differ from previous years’ events?
The Fair will be very different this year. The hall will be the scene of the ‘Garden Cafe’ – imagine dining like royalty in a huge conservatory-style atmosphere filled with flowers and plants.
There will be live music throughout the day, children’s entertainments, including popular ‘Troppo Bob’, the ‘Red Plateau’ Landscaping competition and interesting ‘4 x 3’ Art Competition, where artists are restricted to a uniform canvas size, with no other constraints.
Street markets, local produce and plants, an animal nursery, remote control car racing demonstration and (new attraction) lawn mower racing.
This is the fourth year of the Car Club Capers, with about 100 Vintage and Veteran cars, drag cars and specialty vehicles not just sitting there to be admired, but actually competing in unique events like ‘blind man’s rally’, where the vehicle has to follow a course solely on the instructions of the navigator, since the driver is blindfolded!
New! A ‘Car Boot Sale’ will be happening at the showground too.
What entry fee will there be for the event?
The admission this year is just $5 per person, with under 18s being FREE. On-site parking at the showground is also FREE. The funds will go firstly to defray the costs of running the event, then this year’s special project – exterior painting of Comboyne War Memorial Hall.
This is the only community hall for the people of Comboyne and surrounding rural areas, home to the Comboyne Community Preschool Kindergarten, and well-used by many community groups, including Playgroup, Comboyne Public School, functions and classes for all interests.
Many other local groups also benefit from the Fair, including the A & H Association and sporting groups.
Where can people find more information?
Car Club Capers and showground activities – phone Ray: 6550 4164
Buskers welcome – phone Greadann Jack on 6550 4131 to book.
Stallholders and Car Boot Sale should book ahead with Vickie – firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone Margot on 0427 900 056 for general enquiries. Website: www.comboynevillagefair.com
Interview by Jo Atkins.
This story was published in issue 67 of the Manning-Great Lakes Focus