Eidsvold comes to life for annual Cup meeting

In the North Burnett town of Eidsvold, it is always a stressful week leading towards the annual Cup meeting for Vanessa Murray.

Vanessa carries the titles of treasurer and secretary at the Eidsvold Race Club.

As well as preparing everything that goes into hosting their once a year race meeting, Vanessa is busy finding helpers.

It is not that the people in the town of Eidsvold and surrounding communities do not want to volunteer on the race day of Saturday, they just really don't want to miss their annual opportunity to let their hair down at the track.

Eidsvold is one of over 80 towns in Queensland that their annual race day is the largest or second largest community event for the year.

And, in the small North Burnett community of Eidsvold that boasts a population of just under 600 people, they certainly make the most of their time in the sun.

"It is a great day out, for many people it is the highlight of their year" Vanessa said.

"Everyone looks forward to the races so much that we struggle to find volunteers on the day itself because everyone wants to enjoy themselves and have fun.

"It is a family oriented day here at Eidsvold."

Eidsvold held their popular Cup day on Saturday afternoon – with the feature event won by Darling Downs galloper Vinasta – who has now qualified for the Country Cups Challenge Final in the city later in the year.

And, while the racing was obviously a focus at the track on Saturday, the day that consists of five races means so much more to the community than just horses going around a track.

Eidsvold is flooded with people from surrounding towns such as Monto, Gayndah and Mundubbera, among others.

"It brings in a lot of outside people, probably 90% of people who attend the races here are not from Eidsvold," local trainer Bob Murray said.

"Ladies come from everywhere to have a go at the fashions on the field.

"The fashion on the field is probably more hotly contested than the races itself at times (laughs)."

As Eidsvold is only a small town, they do not have a regular hair salon for the ladies – or men for that matter – to get their hair all prepared for the big Cup day.

In the neighbouring community of Mundubbera – which is about half an hour down the road - Debbie Ford has long run her business, Classic Cuts Hair Studio.

As the owner of the salon, Ford has for the last 15 years sent one of her staff members to Eidsvold two days of every week of the year to ensure the town has the regular service of being able to get their hair styled without needing to leave their area.

And, in the week leading into the Cup, getting a seat at the Classic Cuts Hair Studio is one of the hottest tickets in the region.

"In the two weeks leading into the races, everyone is refreshing their colours and that kind of stuff," Ford said.

"It does certainly get busier.

"We have almost professional fashions on the field competitors, they come to the Eidsvold races just for that and it is of a really good standard.

"It is great to see people go into so much effort for it."

Business owner Ford is also a contributor to the Eidsvold fashions on the field, donating products from her hair salon as a prize for one of the award winners.

"Over the years, my daughters who have moved away come back for the races and they will bring friends with them," Ford said.

"As an event it is important to catch up with people from surrounding towns that you only see once a year at the Eidsvold races."

Like Ford's operation, the interest in John Lusk's work place goes through the roof in the days and weeks leading towards the annual Cup.

Lusk is the Eidsvold Caravan Park manager and has been in the role for the last seven years.

The keen racing follower – Lusk – has lived and worked all around Australia and has owned gallopers in several states.

According to Lusk, his caravan park is a hive of activity on Thursday and Friday leading into the races.

A bus service runs to and from the track to the caravan park in the morning before the first and bringing everyone home safely after the last.

"We are booked out every year and a lot of the same crowd keep coming back," Lusk said.

"The race day would be the biggest or second largest event on the Eidsvold calendar for the year.

"The people that stay here for the races are usually regulars, they usually check out and then book in for the following year at the same time.

"Being racing people and punters, they all talk the same language so people here at the park quickly make friends with other people who are staying."

While the race day on Saturday is the focus of the week, Eidsvold boasts so many other events to support the Cup.

The local bowls club runs a barefoot bowls function on the Friday evening before which is always popular with the visiting crowd to the town.

"It is pretty hectic for us on the committee but it is great that the town is so busy," Vanessa said.

A bus of punters came from Monto on Saturday while two bus loads made the journey from Mundubbera.

Vanessa note that they have club members from the Sunshine Coast, Bundaberg and Rockhampton, who annually make the trek out.

"It just seems to grow every year in terms of attendance and interest," Vanessa said.

"People come from everywhere to attend the races here."

Those from Mundubbera especially enjoy the weekend experience.

"As we do not have a race track, it is a novelty and fun for us to attend," Ford said.

Those on track on Saturday afternoon remarked that it was the greenest Eidsvold Race Club surface that they could remember following recent strong rain in the area.

As well as all the fun and festivities on the track, Eidsvold is a club that is on the rise away from it as well.

They have recently built a new ramp and stair access to their toilet facilities – which were used on Saturday for the first time – while also recently upgrading their barriers on top of redeveloping their stewards and jockeys room, as well as their secretaries office.

It was a mad rush last week to complete some of the projects before race day but many came together to make sure they were ready to go.

"That is what happens in a small town, every one gets in and gets the job done," Vanessa said.


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