VALUES: Showing kindness and compassion toward animals & Having an understanding of and respect for how food is grown/where it comes from.
One of the great things about having a baby is that you get to experience everything as being new again. Everything you introduce to your little one they are seeing for the very first time and watching them have those experiences, take it all in and learn is so exciting (and probably my favourite thing about parenting!). We have been making a real effort to do one thing as a family each weekend and recently we attended Tocal Field Days. Aside from being the biggest agricultural event in the Hunter it is also a great family day out – especially if your little ones wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to animals or know about where it is their food comes from (hint: it’s not the supermarket!). Here’s our experience at this years field days and why I think you should go next year…
What is Tocal and where is it?
Tocal is a locality just out of Maitland, NSW, in the Hunter Valley and plays host to one of the states most renowned agricultural colleges. The property was first established in 1822, with the historic homestead being built in 1841, but it wasn’t until the mid 1800’s when the Reynolds family took on the lease and made the property famous by utilising it as a stud for both cattle and horses.
The property was purchased by the Alexander family in 1926 and when Charles Alexander died in 1947, he left a very large estate and a particularly detailed and complex will. His intention was that his estate be used to help orphan and destitute children by training them for agricultural careers. In 1963, the Presbyterian Church was awarded Alexander’s Estate under a proposal designed by Edward Alan Hunt, law agent for the Church. In 1965 the first fifteen students were enrolled, and Sir Robert Menzies opened the C B Alexander Presbyterian Agricultural College. The Church managed the College until 1970 when it was transferred to the State government as the CB Alexander Agricultural College, Tocal, and as they say the rest is history.
What is Tocal Field Days?
Tocal Field Days have been running since 1984 and are a celebration of all things agriculture. The event is held over three days and plays host to a variety of exhibitors and events. There’s everything from heavy machinery to locally made produce, plus a whole host of entertainment options to delight the little ones.
Our favourite exhibits were the livestock and animal exhibits, including the animal nursery/petting zoo. Clara got up close to a cow for the first time, met Alpacas, colourful chickens and a very, very cool Texas longhorn.
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In addition to all the animal exhibits there is also live entertainment in various locations around the grounds and a whole section dedicated to food and produce. You can sample local foods, such as wine, fruit and veg and oils or stop by the NSW Primary Industries stand and dig for veggies with your kids!
While the event is great for producers, it’s also a fantastic opportunity for families to introduce their kids to farming and what life is like in rural parts of Australia. You will have the opportunity to teach your kids where their food comes from and get them hands on and involved in the processes of animal care and food production – which I think is not only a valuable lesson but also a tonne of fun!
We are looking forward to going again next year once Clara is a little older and can interact with all of the activities more! Maybe we will see you there?!