Meet Andrew Cosgrove, Mingenew Midwest Expo’s new president
At just 28 years of age, Andrew Cosgrove is continuing a family tradition as he dedicates energy and commitment to the task of organising the 2021 McIntosh & Son Mingenew Midwest Expo.
As newly appointed president of the Expo’s organising committee, he is relieving his brother Geoff, and ignoring the advice of family members.
“They said ‘don’t do it’, because they knew how much work is involved,” Mr Cosgrove laughed.
Timed to coincide with the spring wildflower season, Expo attracts many visitors to the area 380km north of Perth and 100km south of Geraldton.
This will be the 38th Expo, which was instigated by Mingenew Lions Club member Bob Paskins.
Mr Cosgrove joined the organising committee in 2018, and was keen to become involved in preparing for the event that was so important to the community.
The Expo has been part of the Cosgrove family’s life since it started in 1983, and Mr Cosgrove has fond memories of clambering over tractors and staring up at shiny, sparkling new farm machines.
The expo served not only as a playground for children but provided a chance of social interaction for all community members.
Mr Cosgrove is well qualified to be running the community event, as a member of a local farming family well entrenched in the local landscape.
“The expo has been going for longer than I have been alive,” he said.
“It started off as the Octoberfest, and the only ones I have missed were those that were on when I was at boarding school or doing my apprenticeship.
“I went to Governor Stirling Senior High School and boarded at Swanleigh, and am a diesel mechanic by trade.”
Though he intended to spend more time plying the trade he had worked so hard to learn, the family farm beckoned.
“I had always planned to come home to the farm and though I would have liked to have worked at my trade for longer, the expansion of the family business meant it was time to come home,” Mr Cosgrove said.
With brothers who have also spent time at home on the farm, it is fair to say that they were not dissuaded from an interest in agriculture.
Mr Cosgrove now farms with his brother Geoff and his family, and their father Gary.
The expo has been going for longer than I have been alive.
Though crops dominate the enterprise mix on the farm, Angus cattle and Merino sheep provide income diversity.
While his plate is full due to involvement with the Mingenew farm, Mr Cosgrove knew how important the Expo was to the community.
While machinery dealership McIntosh & Son will again be the event’s diamond sponsor, there are some new faces joining the committee this year.
This includes Mingenew farmer Rebecca Kelly, Advocate Ag founder Billi Marshall and WA College of Agriculture — Morawa farm manager Leanne Grant-Williams.
The Expo is the biggest event on the town’s community calendar and will be the focus of attention from August 11-12.
Mr Cosgrove said the community was looking forward to a full-scale event, after last year’s COVID-19 restrictions caused last year’s event to be cancelled.
“We rescheduled a smaller event, which was held in September last year, just to enable us to get a bit of cost recovery,” Mr Cosgrove said.
He said the “mini” expo helped finance staff who had worked so hard on the abandoned main event and allowed some exhibitors to display products and engage with customers.
“It was part of getting back to normal life,” Mr Cosgrove said.
While it would be a major achievement to run a “normal” event during a pandemic, especially considering the possibility of snap lock downs and COVID-19 compliance measures, Mr Cosgrove is thinking big, for the future.
“When I was in Canada I went to the Ag in Motion event, it is a huge field day which incorporates on-site field plot trials,” Mr Cosgrove said.
This event gave exhibitors the chance to show people how their products worked in the field, and the experience has given him plenty of food for thought in terms of the Expo’s future.
“Grower groups could be on-site to talk about their trials, and there could be live machinery demonstrations,” Mr Cosgrove said.
He said the thought that the combination of trials and demonstration would work well and draw people from far and wide.
Not that the Expo does not do that already, with Mr Cosgrove saying that it is a great place for social interactions between people.
He remembers the early events being a much-anticipated family outing and said that is still the case for people within the community, and further afield.
“The social interactions provided are definitely an important part of the Expo: we get people from all regions, who get a chance to visit and chat,” Mr Cosgrove said.
The Expo is being billed as a COVID Safe Event, with organisers advising attendees to expect to see changes from previous years.
Every person entering site will be required to scan in with SAFEWA, using the App or by making a manual entry at the gate.
Tickets may be bought online prior to arrival, and payment by card will be preferred.
Organisers have asked for people who are parking to bring the correct change.
COVID marshals will be on site.
All the Expo pavilions will be open for people to wander through, but some will have limits on how people can enter.
Others will be one way, and visitors are asked to observe the directions and look out for each other.
And as is commonly advised during the times we live in, people are asked to stay clear if they are unwell, especially if they have travelled from overseas or an Australian COVID-19 hotspot during the 14 days before the event, or if they had recently experienced cough, fever, sore throat, fatigue, or shortness of breath.
Mr Cosgrove said that the Expo provided something of interest to all.
“The family interest program , including fashion parades and cooking workshops, is popular,” Mr Cosgrove said.
Popular events like the Paddock to Plate presentations focus on the connections between food, growers and the people that eat it, while organisations like the Grains Research and Development Corporation, The Centre for Crop and Disease Management and The Regional Men's Health Initiative will ensure the Expo fills its role as an event for information dissemination, just as Mr Paskins had intended.
Mr Cosgrove said that it was hoped that this year’s Mingenew Expo would not be “back to normal”, but that it would also make up for the lost time last year.
And in between watching the rain gauge, putting in the crops and watching over the stock, the Expo organising would get done.
“I am looking forward to it. If I wasn’t, I would be the wrong man for the job,” he said.
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