AFTER a 27-year hiatus, the Heyfield Timber Festival is set to return in 2021 to celebrate the small town’s proud history and the relevance of the modern timber industry.
The Heyfield Timber Festival began several decades ago as a way of recognising the enduring relationship the district has with its forests, and Heyfield’s reliance on the timber industry for its prosperity.
First milled locally in the late 1800s, timber is deeply embedded in the district’s psyche and over the years hundreds of local families have gained employment directly or indirectly through its mills.
In the 1950s, Heyfield was widely known as a major timber town, with mills supplying timber for houses and businesses, and timber playing a large role in the town’s culture and its residents’ sense of wellbeing.
Heyfield is now the principal source of treated hardwood in Victoria.
The Heyfield Timber Festival drew hundreds of visitors from Gippsland and beyond who came for the carnival atmosphere and to acknowledge the significance of the industry to the local economy.
In the 1980s the festival showcased the process of logging, transport and production or utilisation of the timber, and featured a parade with log trucks, wood chopping competitions, displays of machinery, entertainment and carnival rides.
The brainchild of the festival’s 2021 revival, Heyfield woman Felicia Stevenson, said this year’s festival would see it stick largely to its roots as a community event for the whole family, but with a strong focus on the sustainability of the industry.
“Our logo is ‘sustainability from the hills to the mills and beyond’, and that’s largely our message,” she said.
“The idea came to me as a way of showing the community what the timber industry is about, its benefit to the community and its contribution to sustainability.”
There will be food trucks, market stalls, information stands, entertainment, truck displays, vintage car and motorbike displays, and educational material to show people what happens to the timber once it is logged.
“A lot of people think our timber is just logged for woodchips, so we want to show them what it’s really about,” Ms Stevenson said.
The festival committee, which has raised about $50,000 through community events and received support from the Wellington Shire and local businesses, promises something for the whole family.
Ms Stevenson said highlights would include the spectacular wood chop event on Saturday, dog jumping, children’s entertainment, country market stalls,
food trucks and live bands playing until late.
On Sunday, there will be an iconic truck and community group parade, and buses taking local school groups to Australian Sustainable Hardwoods for an educational tour.
On Sunday, August 1, there will be a fundraising evening at Heyfield emorial Hall, featuring Gippsland-raised musician and Golden Guitar nominee Michael Waugh.
For more information or tickets, phone Felicia Stevenson on 0487 359 559.