THE 12th annual Great Trentham Spudfest in Victoria returned on Saturday, celebrating all things potato.
More than 6000 people wandered the historic village, enjoying spiral potatoes and about 220 kilograms of hand cut chips, while watching live music from the Kyneton Street Band, and a vintage tractor pull at the train station.
A highlight at the trusty Devonshire tea stall was the potato scone - more than 300 were sold, all made from local potatoes, and a 'guess the number of potatoes' competition run out of the back of a ute - $5 a guess, with a big cash prize.
A dizzying variety of different styles of potato recipes and delicacies were on offer in the food court as well.
Spudfest committee convener, Helen Macdonald ("or Big Spud," she said) noted the event continued to grow each year, with people from all over looking for an "authentic" country experience, especially families.
"People come from miles around for a tractor pull, and the Cool Country Classic Car Club has a display of vintage cars - it's something you can't get in the city, you can only get it in a country town," she said.
"We don't have electrically-run rides, and it's all handcrafted products, it's kind of the way they used to be, with some modern touches.
"We had four precincts full of happy spud lovers."
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She added the festival also supported community groups and projects in Trentham, including primary schools and the CFA, and was supported by a contingent of local volunteers who returned every year.
Bringing something new to the table this year was Archibald Prize finalist Rose Wilson' famous Disappearing Farmer series, exhibited in shop windows across the town.
The distinctive paintings of farmers, their children and families, and their working dogs were first debuted in Trentham.
There were also sold-out tours of "spud huts", providing a historical experience of spud diggers who worked in the fields in freezing conditions in Trentham's early days.
"The Trentham Historical Society took bus tours to three of the spud diggers' huts from the early 1900s," Ms Macdonald said.
"The spud diggers were itinerant workers, so huts would be built for them on wheels, they could be pulled by a tractor from field to field - there was no running water or electricity, but they'd live in them for the harvest.
"(The tour) finishes with a sampling of Irish stew - not all, but a lot of the farmers from here are from Irish stock."
Central to the whole festival, however, is the humble Solanum tuberosum - farmers from the area sold dozens of different varieties, in all sorts of colours, and it was not unusual to see people hefting sacks to take home.
"People come for the potatoes, because they left the ground less than 48 hours before people buy them," Ms Macdonald said.
"Fresh spuds taste different."
- This story first appeared on The Courier.