Carolyn Metcalf: field day stalwart’s passion for community

Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days volunteer Carolyn Metcalf.
Camera IconDowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days volunteer Carolyn Metcalf. Credit: Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days

Kind, compassionate and a lady who has lived her life for others.

These terms are frequently used to describe Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days volunteer Carolyn Metcalf.

When she was 15, she spotted Phillip Metcalf and it was love at first sight. Lucky for the community, he was a Dowerin boy.

“I just knew, but the poor fella had to wait for me,” Ms Metcalf said.

After a stint away studying nursing, she returned to Dowerin, got married, had five children and then, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

“Phillip was kind ... I was always off doing things and he backed me up. Thinking about it now, I don’t know how it ran really,” she said with a laugh.

But Ms Metcalf believes it is important to remember, it always works out.

She wishes she could tell this to her younger self — that, and to just enjoy life. “You always see things differently when they’re gone,” she said.

Mr Metcalf passed away unexpectedly in 2011, affecting the whole community, but Ms Metcalf’s love for the town has remained.

She believes she has been fortunate in life to have the love of her husband, her faith and to be a woman of the farm.

It has allowed her the opportunity to volunteer as well as be involved in school events and the community.

“My first year at field days, I remember working under a tarp that was strung up near the ram shed. It had a long trestle table and that was where we sold the sandwiches,” she said.

Things may have changed, but Ms Metcalf’s favourite part of field days is how it brings the community together.

“As soon as you start working together, you make a stronger unit,” she said.

At the end of each day, Ms Metcalf said the catering girls would come together to have a wine and tell their stories, disasters and debrief — the event has always been about unity.

Throughout field days, Ms Metcalf works alongside Thelma Hatwell, doing their part to feed the thousands of visitors to flock through the gates.

She fondly remembers the men of the community supporting their wives in their field days roles, from buttering bread to making custom chairs and doing the heavy lifting.

She said it really was a family event.

Over the years, there have been building structure changes, role changes and menu variations, but the values have stayed the same.

Ms Metcalf believes women have been vital to the sustainability of the event.

“Wendy Newman and Ann Rackham were business-orientated, so they took field days to the next step and to a new focus,” she said.

“Women have a different way of doing things, and if there’s a woman involved, I believe situations always seem more approachable.”

What does she love about Dowerin?

“When someone passes away, even if it’s someone who has moved away, the local flag goes to half-mast ... Everything and everyone means something out here,” she said.

Countryman has partnered with the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days to celebrate the stories of the people who bring this event to life.

From humble beginnings, the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days has grown into one of WA’s biggest regional events, in part fostered by the support of the many volunteers, visitors and exhibitors who bring it to life. As part of a new series, Countryman is proud to bring its readers a snapshot of these stories, as compiled by assistant event co-ordinator Tiffany Davey.

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