The Mirror News

Pears putting Toora on the map

TASMANIA is known as the ‘apple isle,’ but Toora is fast becoming known as South Gippsland’s pear capital.

South Gippslanders would already be aware of the success of the inaugural Pear Party held last year, but the news of this unusual annual event is spreading, following the second Pear Party, held last Sunday.

Within days of the second annual Pear Party, Friends of the Toora Heritage Pear Orchard (FOTHPO) received a number of emails praising the group for the efforts in holding such an event, which thanks to organisers and sponsors, had something for everyone.

It was a terrific day out for adults and children alike. Thankfully, the weather was kind on the day, unlike the Saturday during which attempts to set up marquees had been thwarted by strong winds.

The fine weather and the promise of a great family day brought out well in excess of 600 people. Parking was at a premium at any given time of the day and the benefits of the event were experienced by local hoteliers, tourist park proprietors and other businesses catering for the influx of visitors to the town.

Demonstrations and talks were well attended with a variety to interest many green thumbs, including those by horticulturalist Mark Brammer, Juneen Schulz  who shared her vast gardening knowledge, Ron Smith of Fish Creek who imparted great hints on improving the health of soils and the practises of natural pest control and Bev Smith who shared her knowledge of the making of yoghurt and cheese.

Horticulturalist Neil Barraclough conducted grafting demonstrations and spoke on the subject of seed saving and Ugo Zanella shared his knowledge of the pruning and shaping of young trees.

It’s not all about pears at the Orchard though.……….Angela Cassela maintains a beehive on the property and held a well- received talk on honey.

Plants other than pear trees also had their moment in the limelight, with Syliva having a great day selling a variety of plants at her plant stall. Hilary and Daniel of the Walkerville Kiosk did a roaring trade with hand crafted ice cream during the inaugural outing of their special wheeled ice cream cart.

Vince from Melbourne completely sold out of his pear cider and the Lions Club’s sausage was so popular that the club’s supplies couldn’t keep up with demand. Catherine Williams’ range of pear muffins, slices and chutneys were extremely popular as were Antonio’s Pizza slices and Toora Lodge Motel’s sandwishes and cakes.

Throughout the day, there was always a queue of at least six children eager to have their faces painted by Megan Williams. Parents had free rein of the activities, demos, stalls and other items of interest, as supervised children’s activities continued throughout the day.

The ‘Bocce Boys’ held demonstrations and had many people enjoying a ‘come and try’session of the popular game.

The art of pears was at the forefront, with depictions by local artists shown at the Toora Village Art Gallery and a fantastic array displayed at the Orchard young people, including those at Toora Primary School and Toora Kindergarten – each of whom received a Highly Commended certificate as the entries were of such high standard that the judge couldn’t possibly decide on a winner.

History buffs, those who aspire to be and those simply wanting to find out how to trace their family tree were assisted by the Toora & District History Group.

Music was a big part of the day, adding so much to the atmosphere. Organisers are very grateful to all sponsors of the Pear Party and in particular to Aherns Fruit Market, Foster for the terrific support including the supply of the ‘truck’ stage – the venue of many performances throughout the day by a host of fantastic  local musicians.

The FOTHPO is also grateful to all those who helped plan and prepare the Pear Party, to the South Gippsland Shire Council which maintains the two bridges at the Orchard and to individual councillors who donated money from discretionary funds to put towards the day’s entertainment.

The FOTHPO also extends gratitude to Jeff and Leigh and to Jan for their supply of electricity, providing power for the day.

The Pear Party of 2014 will be a hard act to follow, but with inspiration and organisation by the FOTHPO, rest assured it will be also be a day to remember.

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