Let it Pour initiative for drought relief

Sarah Luke

PEOPLE will be able to raise a glass, toast the resilience of the farming community and ease a difficult conversation over a cold one this weekend, when the Let It Pour drought relief fundraising campaign blows into town.

The Star Hotel in Sale, the Railway Hotel, Heyfield, and Maffra Community Sports Club will join more than 100 pubs and clubs across Victoria helping drought-stricken communities from Friday until Sunday.

Great Northern Brewery Co has donated 1000 kegs to venues across the country, with all proceeds from the kegs sold going to the Rotary Clubs of Australia’s Drought Relief Appeal.

The initiative raised more than $1 million for farmers last year, and was spent on everything from feed and water for livestock to school supplies for children, farm machinery repairs and food for dinner tables.

With the Bureau of Meteorology predicting below average rainfall likely for most of the country for November, a nationwide increased risk of heatwaves and bushfires in the coming months and touting several months of above average rainfall as the only recovery for current conditions, the fundraiser is aimed at letting farmers know they are not alone.

Star Hotel licensee Cheryl Gilmartin said given the drought and fires, it was crucial farmers and regional businesses got the support they needed.

“Most of the customers are rural-based, so they all know that we’re all in need and supporting each other,” she said.

“It’s a knock-on effect too – it’s not just the farmers.

“This [fundraiser] will go directly to the farmers, but if we can help support them, they’re going to help maintain the town as well, so that’s really important.

“Our trade in general is just down, so we need to be on board to help each other and support.”

Given the impeccable timing of Sale Cup on Sunday and the free bus service which will bring punters and fashionistas directly across the street, Ms Gilmartin anticipated a roaring trade this weekend.

“They’ve set us a fairly minor target of $500, but I’d like to think that we could well exceed that,” she said.

Maffra Community Sports Club operations manager Jarryd Thomas said Let It Pour was a huge opportunity for the club to do something beyond its usual line of duty.

“We do give back to the community, being the Maffra Community Sports Club, but it’s more sports-based orientation,” he said.

“This way, we can branch out a little further and help our local farmers in times of need.”

Mr Thomas said the pub was usually “flat out” with farmers.

“We hear a lot of stories from dairy farmers – a lot come in during the lunch time period, have a beer and a bit of a yarn, and then they’ll be back off to work in a couple of hours,” he said.

“I know Maffra’s very dairy farming-orientated, so it’s good to see everybody getting behind everybody.”

Great Northern’s Antonia Ciorciari said last year’s events united country and city communities for a common cause, but also showed rural people affected by drought they were not alone.

“This year, pubs and clubs from Western Australia to Queensland and everywhere in between will be hosting live bands, sausage sizzles, bale tossing and other great activities to raise much-needed funds for our battling bushies – it’s going to be a lot of fun and all in the name of a good cause,” she said.

“Let it Pour is our way to give back to some of the people who have been our biggest supporters, and we want them to know we are behind them,” she said.