The small town of Wondai, population 2,000, in the South Burnett region of Queensland, is known for its character-filled streetscapes, well-tended parks, and authentic country charm. It is also home to the Wondai Garden Expo, which is one of the largest and most successful events of its kind in regional Queensland and will be held from April 17-18.
Despite the cloud which COVID 19 threats have thrown over many community events, the Wondai 2021 Autumn Garden Expo will go ahead unless there is a blanket shut-down in the region.
President Helen Young said the Expo Committee was geared to make sure that the Expo Market would be conducted with Covid-Safe rules in place, and is urging all who wish to come to be considerate of everyone including themselves and follow any directives which are in place.
“We particularly urge people to be diligent in signing in, patient in queues at the gate and stalls, and pay attention to social distancing and personal hygiene at all times,” Helen said.
As a means of giving recognition to the stalls which continue to support Expo, a special prize will be awarded to the site which is judged to be the most appealing. They will be assessed no later than 9am on Saturday morning, and the winner will be announced at the Official Opening at 1pm on Saturday.
Another new competition open to the public will be for the most attractive hanging Basket with a category for both Juniors and Adults.
Entry is free and we are urging everyone to get busy and create something exciting.
These will be judged on Saturday morning and winners will be presented with prizes which will include products and vouchers at the Official Opening.
In a new approach to providing guest speakers, it is planned to have an interesting line-up of speakers sourced from some of the businesses which attend Expo.
These people will give in-depth looks at their own businesses and experiences and should prove to be most interesting.
Helen has been involved with the Expo since its inception, initially as a stallholder, and since then as a member of the committee.
She attributes the event’s longevity to its professional approach, quality garden experiences, and its location in the South Burnett.
“I think this was a big selling point of the dedicated garden market – people had a ‘one stop shop’ for plants, products and expert advice from the growers themselves,” she said.
“The professionalism and quality of the stalls has improved markedly over the years. People put in a lot of effort to decorate and present their products in line with the season. This helped to enhance the reputation of the event, and soon we had commercial nurseries getting involved as well as some well-known garden brands. We now have on average over 50 nurseries represented at each event.”
“A growing trend towards organic and sustainable gardening in recent years has brought stalls selling sustainable gardening products, organic compost, worm farms, and organic sprays. We have also seen an increase in organically grown produce being sold, such as citrus and avocados. These stalls are always well supported and the sellers help to educate visitors as to how they can transition to more organic and sustainable gardening,” she said.
“Stallholders come from as far as Brisbane and Bundaberg, and visitors from all over Queensland and northern NSW. The range of displays has evolved from just plants to include high value garden decorator items, themed displays, a health and beauty extension, and the Horticulture and Photography Show hosted by the Wondai Garden Club.
The Autumn Expo also welcomes the inclusion of the South Burnett Orchid Society’s Display, and the Wondai Regional Art Gallery showcases an Open Art Competition during the month of April which is sponsored by Wondai Garden Expo.
Helen said that one of the most common pieces of feedback the committee receives about the expo is its welcoming, country feel. While the event is large enough to take up the whole sports ground, it involves the whole community and that translates to those visiting.
“It really does take a village to keep this event alive!” Helen said.
“The expo has a strong community feel – rather than a commercial feel – and I think that is something that can only be gained by coming into a small community like Wondai, and experiencing its country hospitality.”
“The event is a major fundraiser for many community groups. They host stalls, run a canteen, operate the cloakroom, and provide volunteers to support the event on the day. We also have the local wineries on site doing wine tastings and showcasing their products. The whole event is warm and welcoming.”
“We love hearing feedback from visitors that the event was bigger and better than they expected. Word about the expo has definitely spread through the region and gardening groups, which is a wonderful feeling. We even had good turnouts during some of the toughest drought years.”
“When you look at other community events and festivals that have run their course and finished up, it is a great accomplishment that the Wondai Garden Expo is not only still operating, but going from strength to strength. If we can continue to provide quality stalls, education and learning opportunities, entertainment, and feed people well, then the event will keep going!”
“If you haven’t attended the expo before I strongly encourage you to come down, have a look, and throw your support behind a local event. You would be mad to miss it!” she said.
What: Wondai Autumn Garden Expo
When: 17-18 April 2021.
8 am – 4.30 pm Saturday, 8 am – 1.00 pm Sunday
Location: Wondai Sportsground & Lions Pavilion,
Bunya Highway, Wondai
Tickets: Available at the gate.
Adults: $5/one day or $8/2 days
Tour groups of 10 or more $4.00 per adult, pre-paid.
Children U15 free