Harts Range Races

Over the long weekend at the end of July, the Harts Range Amateur Race Club hold their annual race day at their race course near Harts Range on the Plenty Highway.  It is a family weekend, with events and entertainment for children and adults.  Catering is a mix of BYO and a canteen kitchen usually operated by volunteers from the Ioslated Childrens Parents Association (ICPA). 

For the past 3 years, I have been catering coordinator for ICPA for the Harts Range weekend.  This involves organising the required permit to operate the kitchen and sell food, ordering all the necessary supplies, arranging a roster of people to do the cooking and serving on the weekend, and then overseeing the operation of the kitchen.  The first year was very stressful, as I had no idea what I was doing and no idea what I needed to know.  This third year was much better, despite the usual crop of setbacks.  Most of the orders arrived without a hitch, except we received 20 loaves of bread instead of the 20 cartons of bread I ordered (that was 240 loaves!!)  Fortunately we were able to contact a latecomer who could collect the other 220 loaves from Alice Springs for us.  Everything else arrived as ordered.

The weather was quite warm.  It was not so hot as to be uncomfortable in the open, but certainly warm enough to prompt people to want lots of cold drinks.  For the first time that I have been involved, we sold all of the drinks we had available, which was both good and bad.  Good because we had no leftovers to dispose of, and bad because we could have sold more if we had them!  Ice blocks and bags of ice we also quick sellers, and we ran out of them too.

Staffing the kitchen is always a problem.  This year was better in that a team of volunteers took the morning shifts out of my hands and ran the kitchen from opening at 8am until 1pm.  Then I took over, assisted by two of my girls and another volunteer, until 8pm.  The occasional hour or three from other volunteers allowed us to take short breaks , but it was still a long day in the heat of the kitchen.

Once again I was unable to see much of the activity on the racetrack and in the rodeo arena.  When the events were on, I was in the kitchen, and after the kitchen closed the girls and I collapsed on our swags until morning.  Maybe one year I’ll go for the fun of it!!  The best thing about this year’s effort is that we were able to raise a lot of money for ICPA, so they can continue to advocate for bush kids to get quality education and appropriate support to make the most of the educational opportunities that come their way.

Maybe we will tackle the coordinating role again next year.  Time will tell, as it depends on whether we are still in the NT this time next year.  It’s been a good experience, but don’t ask me too much about what goes on at the Harts Range Races.  I can only tell you about the kitchen, for everything else you’ll have to talk to someone who actually gets to see the races!!

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