After 21 years at the helm, Bill Adams has retired from conducting the popular Kapunda Farm Fair.
When the March 2020, event was all ready to go, it was cancelled due to Covid-19 and those eighteen months’ preparation virtually went down the drain – with it came Bill’s decision to call it a day.
“That’s it!” Bill told The Leader.
“In the coming July, I will turn 86 years old, the enormity of the task and the financial risk factor made the decision much easier to make.”
Looking back over his years running the fair, Bill said many friendships were made with the repeat exhibitors.
“This is something I am going to miss,” he said.
“It became a family and I am urging them all to get behind the event that will take its place on the Australian Field Days’ calendar next year.”
The idea for a farm fair in the region began in 1998 when the local Council decided a farm field day at Freeling should be established.
Council engaged Rob Kirkpatrick, founder of the Broken Hill Agfair, and their Tourist Officer, Bill O’Brien, to call a meeting at Freeling to let anyone who was interested hear about what was required to conduct a bi-annual event like the successful Agfair.
However, not much enthusiasm was shown at the time and a second meeting shortly after achieved a similar reception.
Enter Bill Adams.
The Kapunda stalwart happened to walk into the Clare Castle Hotel to find his good friend, Bill O’Brien (now the Light Regional Council Mayor) having a beer.
“He had a highly unusual unhappy look about him,” recalled Bill.
“He relayed the story of his disappointing meeting and it was then I said the Kapunda Trotting Club will do it, and do it they did!”
The first event in May, 1999 was named the South Australian Agricultural Trade Fair and was held mainly on Kapunda’s Dutton Park.
“The Trotting Club car park was used and the shedding,” added Bill.
“It drew a big crowd over the two days but expenses were high and only a very modest profit resulted.”
Before the 2001 event was held, the creek across the centre of the inner trot track was piped and back-filled and an irrigation system installed.
“Success came with the better facilities and helped towards repaying the heavy outlay for the upgrade,” Bill said.
All went well with plenty of exhibitors, crowds numbering around 5,000 and profitable trading until the washout of 2016.
“Being an outside event, weather conditions dictated attendance and financial results and Kapunda was poorly treated in 2016 and 2018 with both rain and heavy winds,” Bill said.
Drought conditions only added to the disappointment and “the going got tough” thereafter.
“An event of this size needs a club with ample volunteers to run it,” Bill said.
“Opportunity is limitless and Freeling, where it was initially intended to be held, became the obvious choice to take over the Kapunda event at their superb purpose-built Farm Centre.”
Bill said he was only too happy to assist his successors where he could, as plans begin for the Freeling event in March, 2022.