Volunteers man grills for community fundraiser

By Southern Riverina News

More than 9000 sausages, 5000 rolls and 3800 bags of ice were sold by the community barbecue to the thousands of people at Strawberry Fields Music Festival.

For the first time Strawberry Fields Music Festival directors allowed local community groups to fundraise at the event by running a barbecue called Chillin’ n Grillin’.

It was run by Tocumwal Chamber of Commerce, who enlisted help from Finley Chamber of Commerce and the Berrigan War Memorial Pool committee. All three will share the money made from the barbecue, which was still be collated yesterday.

About 80 people volunteered over the four day event, each working for a minimum of eight hours.

With a free festival ticket offered in return for their efforts, the incentive even drew the eye of three Melbourne lads, who despite having no connection to Tocumwal thought it would be a good chance to do their part for the local community plus snare a free ticket.

Chillin’ n Grillin’ made it easy with sausages in bread, bacon and egg rolls and hamburgers available in addition to bags of ice and soft drinks.

A converted large storage container — purchased by Tocumwal Chamber for such events — was used for the front of house to collect money, while four barbecues were almost constantly being used to cook up the food.

So popular was the barbecue, organisers volunteers were forced to restock their bacon supplied by Saturday afternoon.

Tocumwal Chamber president Sergio Redegalli said what the volunteers managed to pull off ‘‘was an overwhelming success’’.

‘‘Although we haven’t finalised our figures raised, we spent at least a minimum $35,000 on buying all local produce.

‘‘We sold at least 3,800 bags of ice, and for the food we were going through 1,000 bread rolls a day to serve the meat, from local butchers.

‘‘Not to mention everything else likes strawberries and other goods purchased from other local suppliers such as K&A Foods in Finley, David Walsh Gas and bakeries in Tocumwal and Finley,’’ Mr Redegalli said.

Tocumwal butcher Mick Haynes said his business was able to benefit from Strawberry Fields.

‘‘It makes our team quite busy for the three weeks leading up to it, and it certainly increases my business substantially,’’ he said.

‘‘The Strawberry Fields crew go out of their way to shop locally, and so did some of the other food vendors.’’