Ekka is traditionally when the country comes to the city, but like all entertainments that bring a crowd, the Ekka this year had to adapt to the new COVID-19 environment.
So rather than giving talks to hundreds in an inner-city venue, QDO members and long time Ekka ambassadors Kay and Dave Tommerup hosted an Ekka Open Day at their dairy farm in Kerry instead.
Usually parents would be dragging reluctant children from one crowded pavilion to the next on Ekka Wednesday. Instead, families from Brisbane and Gold Coast patiently social distanced while waiting to be COVID temperature-tested before entering the Tommerups' dairy farm.
The Tommerups capped numbers at 200 so that visitors were allowed plenty of space to relax, picnic, listen to the live music, feed the jersey calves, heritage pigs, sheep and chickens.
Both Dave and Kay Tommerup were frank and open about their own story as dairy farmers and the financial necessity to diversify into agritourism and the development of their ethically raised veal and pork and their Jersey Girl dairy range of red gum smoked butter, crème fraiche and gourmet ice-creams by Lick!
Last month's announcement by the Queensland government to support the development and growth of Queensland agritourism via a $2 million industry grant will help to open up opportunities to regional businesses in the agricultural sector. Along with Queensland Farmers Federation, we hope this grant can assist other members to build their capacity, to learn how they can diversify and improve the overall profitability of their agricultural business.
It was heartening to talk to so many people who have a real desire to learn and understand where their food comes from and the value of the work involved. While the Ekka brings a novelty to the experience, COVID-19 restrictions are actually showing people how lucky they are to have such a vast and vibrant agricultural sector on their doorstep.