Grenfell Picnic Races last held a meeting in 2019, missing 2020 and 2021 because of the impacts of the pandemic, but instead of resting on their laurels and waiting for a return to racing, the Grenfell committee has taken a ‘glass half full’ approach as they prepare for their next meeting on April 9.
Grenfell have since shifted more focus on the children and families attending their meeting, making it more of a family friendly event.
“It’s been tough not racing, but I think things have changed a fair bit in that short period of time and we have had to adapt,” said Grenfell Picnic Races President Danny Kotel.
“One of the things that we’ve paid more attention to is the younger participants.
“We are planning on having entertainment and activates for younger people, so families will come, and kids will have novelty events
“We will be having Inflatables, a sand pit with toys. I think the adults are generally well looked after with canteen, bar and fashions, but the younger generation needed more.”
Grenfell have also introduced social memberships, giving interested race goers the opportunity to secure race day tickets while staying informed during the year as the club prepares to embark on new projects.
“One of the things we need to think about is the future of the club,” Kotel said.
“Getting families involved is one aspect and introducing the social membership allowed those people to keep some interest and potentially get involved.
“Even though we do race once a year, we want to keep in touch and social memberships let them know about what’s coming up and what’s changing.”
Kotel said the club was welcoming a return to racing, after being called off close to their race day in 2020, before making an early decision in late 2020 not to race in 2021.
“In 2020, we had to refund donations and sponsorship money that year because that was as far as we had progressed and we had to cancel a month out,” Kotel said.
“For 2021, we cancelled late 2020. It was tough. The Corona (virus) restrictions meant that we didn’t have enough volunteers to do everything required of us with QR codes, Covid Marshals, wiping down surfaces, replacing hand sanitizer and all of those jobs.
“Everybody on our committee already have locked in jobs, and some look after the canteen, the bar and those things, and it was going to stretch us too far and we didn’t believe we were able to provide a Covid safe event.
Kotel believes a long-awaited return to racing will be a boost for the club and general community.
“Everything in Grenfell got cancelled for two years,” Kotel said.
“The show, the muster, the jockey club meeting, and the Henry Lawson Festival was all cancelled, so it really has been a couple of years of not that much happening and I get the sense that people are waiting for something.
“We are starting to see a lot of people showing interest in the meeting too. We have been happy with the response to marquees with people organising birthday parties, family reunions and other events.”
After the recent weather, Kotel said a small but hard-working team had been rallying to have the track ready and raring for next month.
“We haven’t had an inspection by stewards, but we have been getting on the track for four months or so,” Kotel said.
“The weeds after the rain we had were six-foot high and the Marshmallow Weed was ridiculous, but the actual racing surface is really good.
“The fellas from the Grenfell Racecourse Land Managers Group were looking after it and the picnic race club is now concentrating on the track and coordinating with the land managers group to have the course ready.”
Fashions on the field is another big part of the Grenfell picnic meeting, and Kotel was proud to accept that fashions was part and parcel of their race day plans.
“We are really happy that Lachlan Fert (Delta Ag) and Anthony Dixon is sponsoring again; they have been sponsors of that for several years and they have been quick to jump on board again,” Kotel said.
“The various categories and prizemoney do attract a good crowd and there are two things happening on the same day – the racing and fashions – if you’re lucky enough, you might get to see a bit of both.”
It will be another big day of racing at Grenfell on April 9 and Kotel joked it would be the first time that many new upgrades, which occurred in 2019, would be seen by the general public.
“In 2019, after the picnic races, we spent most of that year renovating the sheds, kitchen and toilets and they haven’t been used yet,” Kotel laughed.
“We had federal and state government grants and we haven’t Christened anything yet, and altogether we spent about $160,000 and it will be good to see everything being utilised.”
Readers wanting to know more about the Grenfell meeting can click here.