Three generations of volunteers serve up Henty meals

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May 30, 2013

Alice Terlich will never forget the year she had to pluck and clean 30 turkeys in readiness for the Henty field days.

The turkeys were destined for salad sandwiches to be served to field day crowds in the 1960s.

As a member of the Henty Catering Association, Mrs Terlich is one of the field day’s most committed volunteers with a service record spanning almost 50 years.

She was among the Henty Public School parents to prepare sandwiches for visitors to the original one-day header school at the Henty showground in 1961.

“When the field days became a two day event, the committee wanted bigger meals so we had to make casseroles,’’ Mrs Terlich said.

“One year we had to pluck and clean 30 turkeys at home – three couples turned up to help and I had sheets to put the turkeys on in case the cats or dogs got them.

“The turkeys went into the bakers in town to be cooked – it certainly was an experience.’’

Every year, Alice and the other mothers would assemble an army of grandparents to care for the children while they manned the catering sheds.

“There would be all these grandmothers looking after babies at one end of the shed while we were wrapping sandwiches or washing plates,’’ she said.

“I loved the comraderie – if I didn’t see someone for 12 months, I would always see them at the field days.

“All the funds we raised went back into the school for library books, computers and play equipment.’’

Alice’s enthusiasm for the field days extended to her five children and 14 grandchildren.

All three generations of the Terlich family have given their time to work in the catering sheds at Henty each year.

Alice’s son Neale “Squeal’’ Terlich recalls a childhood of cleaning the sheds, working the tills, cooking the barbecue or tending to the cool room.

“The steak would arrive in 50kg tubs and it was hard work lifting them off the truck,’’ he said.

At 45, the Henty farmhand and shearer has never missed a field day and considers the local community fortunate to benefit from such major funding over the decades.

Each year, Neale and wife Lindy take a week off work to run the Henty Swampies Football Club catering shed.

The Henty Catering Association orders 600 loaves of bread, 600kg of steak, 180kg of sliced onions and 180kg of coleslaw in readiness to serve 20,000 meals over three days.

The couple’s three children Shannon, Natalie and Daniel have grown up lending a hand at Henty.

 “We start each day at 7.30am cooking bacon and eggs, although a lot of preparation work is done the night before,’’ Neale said.

“Then people start rolling up. We have from 20 to 40 volunteers in the shed – some footy club members, high school kids or farmers.

“It is a good social outing, there is a lot of fun and joking – no one stresses.

 “Last year the club was able to put in new goal posts and a scoreboard with the funds raised at the field days.’’

Neale has made a lot of mates over the years at Henty – fellow volunteers and field day exhibitors – and enjoys inspecting the machinery displays or browsing the tool stands when he gets a few hours off.

At one Henty he had his new Case header on display and another year he invested in a Marshall lime spreader.

But by the end of the field days, all of the catering volunteers are exhausted.

“I just want to go to the pub on the Friday night and have a beer – but we look forward to doing it all again the next year,’’ he said.

Caption: Neale “Squeal” Terlich has never missed a field day and is a keen volunteer in the catering sheds.