Agfest volunteer 'now part of the furniture'

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Agfest, in its 34th year, is Tasmania’s premier rural event and is entirely run by Rural Youth volunteers and Alistair Downie has been around for 31 of them.

Mr Downie doesn’t think the event can get any bigger, or any better.

“It’s all changed over the years from 600 patrons to over 70,000 one year. If we get towards 60,000 this year we’ve done pretty well,” he said.

Agfest vice chairman Dayna Broun said the event is expected to bring about $26 million dollars to the state’s economy.

Aside from showcasing the best that rural Tasmania has to offer, Agfest fosters close relationships within the Tasmanian agricultural community.

Ms Broun said Mr Downie is a shining example of the commitments the volunteers make every year.

Unlike other volunteers who are assigned jobs, Mr Downie said he’s been working at Agfest for long enough that he can choose which job he wants to do each year.

“I’ve done carpark, a lot of things. Now, I like to hand out programs to people as they walk through the front gate."

Very proud to be part of a big part of organising Agfest, Mr Downie said that “if it wasn’t for the volunteers, it just wouldn’t happen".

"I’m really happy to be here every time, I really can’t choose a favourite year that I’ve been here.”

Past Agfest chairman Ian MacKenzie said that Al is a legend, and has been here so long that he is now “part of the furniture." 

Adding with a smile, he said "it just wouldn’t be Agfest without him”.

 Mr Downing spends a week each year helping to set up the massive site and said the event is as "good as it’s gonna get" and getting everyone together for the one event of the year that makes it so great.

“If Tassie didn’t have Agfest, then where would we be?” he said, adding that he will back for next year.