Tocal from the air during the flooding last week. Pic: Darren PatemanTHE Tocal Field Days have been cancelled on the advice of emergency services.
The three-day event was scheduled to start on Friday.
Field days chairman and college principal Cameron Archer made the announcement on Wednesday night.
“We regret having to cancel the field days, but it is the only responsible thing to do,” Dr Archer said.
Dr Archer said the key problem – apart from more heavy rain forecast – was a severely damaged concrete bridge at Mindaribba, on Tocal Road, which was the main access road.
“This bridge was damaged by the recent storm event and is unstable,” he said.
“With further rain and heavy traffic there is a possibility that it could fail completely.”
The annual event attracts up to 10,000 visitors a day.
Heavy rain could cause the Paterson River to quickly rise and make Gresford Road to the north and Paterson Road to the east unpassable.
Dr Archer said the event involved 12 months of planning.
“We and many others plan all year for the event. We look forward to it and enjoy all aspects of it,” he said.
“The event has tremendous support from the community and rural industry. This year, all sites were fully booked up and ready to go.
“[The cancellation] is a bit sad but we will get through it.”
Many exhibitors had already set up displays, and were looking forward to the weekend, albeit, a wet one.
Dr Archer said previous field days had been affected by rain, but this time the landscape was already sodden from last week’s storm and subsequent flooding, and the Paterson River remained above normal levels.
“The Tocal Field Days Association and the college work assiduously on safety; we take great care and we take our responsibilities seriously,” Dr Archer said.
“Sometimes hard decisions have to be made in the interests of eliminating risks completely.
“We do not believe we can take the risk of running the event given the advice we have had as well as the access problem which is evident when one assesses the condition of the bridge at Mindaribba.”