Anderson's Mill Festival attracts thousands for fun day of fundraising and frivolity

THE 20th annual Anderson’s Mill Festival was held at the weekend, with thousands enjoying the colourful afternoon on the steps of and through the historic Smeaton building. 

Chairman Greg May said a fantastic crowd attended the festival, with the Newlyn Football Netball Club running it for the 10th year as a fundraiser for the club. 

“It’s a great day that showcases the mill and brings people together,” he said.

Mr May said many community groups were involved, including Relay for Life and the Smeaton Junior Fire Brigade.

“There are 80 to 90 volunteers out helping the day to run smoothly,” he said. 

“We find that many of the classic activities are still the most popular.”

The McDonald family from Ballarat first came to the festival more than five years ago and came back this year. 

“My parents were coming out, so we thought we’d come out too with the kids,” Craig McDonald said. 

Nicole McDonald said each of their three children enjoyed the day, with the youngest Thomas loving the petting farm, middle child Laura loving the pony rides and eldest Samuel enjoying having a look at everything. 

“For us, we’ve just loved seeing the kids have so much fun,” Ms McDonald said. 

Pumpkin competition co-ordinator Kristi Pedretti said the competition for the region’s biggest pumpkin continued after the school closed down, with the junior fire brigade taking on the event.

Rudolf Rasic from Sailors Falls won the competition this year, with a pumpkin weighing 38.28 kilograms.

“Last year’s winning pumpkin was about 26 kilograms, so the word is getting around,” Ms Pedretti said. 

She said the competition was based on the weight of the pumpkin, with contestants having to live within 50 kilometres of Smeaton.

“It’s created a bit of banter in the local pub  –  who will have the biggest pumpkin this year,” she said. 

The day included wood chopping, sheering demonstrations, food stalls, craft and clothing stall, a fudge factor, temporary tattoos and other activities. 

Mr May said Maverick the horse had been coming with his owner for more than five years, a quiet horse and a crowd favourite. 

He said it was the major festival of the year for this region.

“It’s not just about the money we raise – it’s a social day that brings the community together.”