August 25, 2015
Hundreds of local volunteers have rolled up their sleeves and served in the catering sheds at the field days over the decades, raising money for much needed community projects in the process.
Henty Catering Association is celebrating 40 years of service at the Henty Machinery Field Days and over that period has donated funds to around 20 organisations, sporting clubs and schools in Henty and Culcairn.
Each year, volunteers ranging in age from 16 to 75 help flip burgers, make thousands of sandwiches, serve customers and clean the catering sheds.
The Association has three outlets at the field days and one site at the Henty Public School for the preparation of sandwiches, salad rolls and salads.
Between 2001 and 2012, the association distributed $425,500 in funds to the Henty and Culcairn communities.
The main benefactors until 2004 were the Henty Public School and Henty swimming pool.
Organisations to benefit since then include Henty netball, football, tennis and cricket clubs, Henty Medical Centre, Henty Men’s Shed, Henty Lifestyle Centre, Henty Social Club, garden and camera clubs, Henty RSL, library, Little Athletics and the Headlie Taylor Header Museum.
The biggest single grant made was $23,500 to the Henty Public School in 2010.
The association was founded in 1975 by the Henty Public School P & C, and got off to a flying start, serving up 2241 hot dinners and 2136 sandwiches to hungry field day patrons that year.
The hot dinners were mainly beef casseroles, cooked at home and brought to the site in tubs. They were then combined in coppers and the final touches added before serving with boiled rice.
Tea was served in teapots, brought to the site from the Henty Memorial Hall, while fruit salad was served for dessert.
The following year the catering group found a permanent home with a shed transported from the RAAF base at Wagga to the new Henty Machinery Field Days site on the Cookardinia Road.
The Henty Catering Association became incorporated in 1987 and added several new barbecues to the catering sheds.
By 1990, the Association was selling 1376kg of steak, 1091kg of hamburgers, 1300 loaves of breed, 645 dozen bread rolls, 1040kg of coleslaw, 1004kg of onions, 36 four litre bottles of tomato sauce, 3000 tea bags, 330kg of fruit salad, 50kg of grated carrot, 60kg of cheese and 40 dozen eggs.
Under president Trevor Haines, the committee of 1991 spent much time discussing the introduction of hot chips while yearly income had topped $60,000.
Chicken burgers were added to the menu in 1994 and 10 dozen scones were ordered from Lyn Jacobsen, of Pleasant Hills.
In the year 2000, a day care service was run for the children of the catering volunteers for the first time, and a bus introduced to transport workers to the site.
Alice Terlich retired from food ordering in 2010, a role undertaken by her for more than 30 years, and is replaced by her daughter, Wendy Maher. Sadly, Wendy passed away in 2013.
President Alison Campbell said today’s menu was diversified to include gluten free options, sushi, gourmet pies, baked potatoes, lamb burgers and salt and pepper calamari.
“We have always insisted on using quality beef and source yearling scotch fillet steaks,’’ Mrs Campbell said.
“Around 400kg of scotch fillet is used to make 4000 steak sandwiches.’’
Secretary Mary D’Arcy-Liston said as much of the food as possible sold through the association’s shed was sourced locally.
“The steak, sausages and lamb burgers are bought locally and the bread from the Holbrook bakery so we urge everyone attending the field day to eat local to keep the money in the community,’’ Mrs D’Arcy-Liston said.
“Our policy is 50 per cent of the profit goes to the Henty Public School. The balance is decided by our committee through a tender process.
“Community groups apply for funds by the end of October and we have a meeting in November to distribute the money – any group or organisation can put forward a case for funds and it is considered on its merits.
“Individual school students competing at an academic or sporting state level can also apply for a scholarship.
“It is a rare opportunity for a town the size of Henty to have such a major fundraiser and the money is not sourced from within the local community.
“We consider the field days co-operative to be our partners.’’
Mrs D’Arcy-Liston said volunteering in the catering sheds was a great way for people to make social connections.
“There is no better feeling than giving – it’s a buzz,’’ she said.
“It is so good to have access to funds to give to groups which may be struggling yet have a valid project of benefit to the whole community.
“This year, donations were made for the construction of Henty’s skate park, the RSL’s ANZAC celebrations and construction of disabled access at the Catholic Church.’’
Nothing is wasted with unsold product donated to Uniting Care.
Mrs D’Arcy-Liston said the retention rate of volunteers in the catering sheds was high.
“It is a little bit addictive – it is usually a whole family commitment where there is a not negotiable expectation the kids will work at the field days,’’ she said.
“The kids get a great grounding in that sense of community which sticks with them for life.’’