Thorpdale Potato Festival

“Around 13 people volunteer on the committee to organise it each year, with around another 30 people volunteering on the day to help organise parking, ticketing, events and market stalls. Without our local volunteers, the spud festival would not have returned.”

Jon Marsh

Revival of the humble country show, one where you can meet the farmer and learn about your favourite foods, has been nothing short of a success in the green rolling hills of Thorpdale. 

The Thorpdale Potato Festival celebrates the long history of potato farming in the Thorpdale district.  Since the area was settled, potatoes have been the crop of choice for most farmers in the area, thriving in it’s rich volcanic soil. 

Held for many years, large family potato farms began to disperse and popularity for the festival wavered. A dedicated small group of volunteers began to look at reviving the festival with the aim to fundraise for the community organisations operating in the township.  

10,000 people attended  

In 2015 over 10,000 people attended the first Spud Festival in 15 years, many attending from beyond the local area, coming from as far as Melbourne. Full of good old fashioned country show entertainment including working dog trials, a sheep shearing demonstration and free kids activities like jumping castles, petting zoo, bucking bull and stunt motorbikes throughout the day, the Thorpdale Potato Festival had something for everyone! 

$53,000 raised in 2019 for the local community 

In 2019, the festival raised over $53,000 which was dispersed through the community to ?? deserving organisations such as the Thorpdale Kinder, Narracan Primary School, Thorpdale Tennis Club, Thorpdale Cub Scouts, Thorpdale Primary School, Thorpdale CFA and Thorpdale Bowling Club, just to name a few.  

Due to it’s overwhelming success and popularity the Thorpdale Potato Festival plans to form a new committee to begin organising the next festival for 2021. 

Paul and Jon’s Story  

Jon Marsh began a conversation with a group of local people at the Thorpdale Tennis Club late one summer’s evening, aiming to find a better way to fundraise for local organisations and clubs.  

“I was intrigued by the story of the “Thorpdale Potato Festival” and wondered if I could get a group of interested locals together to get it going again.” They put together a committee and the Spud Festival was once again on the cards.  

“It takes about 8 months for the committee to organise each festival, initially it was more like a reunion, we had a Potato Festival Spring Ball to fundraise for it, we needed lots of sponsorship and support to get it going again,” says Paul McLure, current President of the Thorpdale Potato Festival.  

“With many volunteers needed, we run the festival once every two years and it’s been an incredible benefit to the community, with over $53,000 going back into local organisations last year. We’ll take a break this year and go for it again in 2022,” finished Jon. 

Thorpdale Potato Festival 

The Thorpdale Potato Festival is a biennial event held to celebrate the humble spud and potato growing practises in the red volcanic soils of Gippsland.  Historically a potato growing region the Thorpdale Potato Festival was held for many years.   

After a 15 year hiatus, ​the return of the festival in 2015, saw close to 10,000 people flock to the rolling Thorpdale hills to enjoy picking, stacking, eating and learning all about delicious local potatoes. 

The Community Foundation were delighted to sponsor this event on a number of occasions.