Organised as the grand finale for the huge drought relief effort directed towards the small central Queensland town in mid-September, it put a smile on the faces of the people in one of the communities grappling with the extreme cash drought brought about by years of no rain.
Writing a blog for Police Media, acting senior constable Luke Young, the officer in charge of the Jericho police station and one of the instigators, said it drew the whole community together.
“The residents of Jericho have never seen anything like this before and will be forever grateful,” Luke said. “Nearly a week later, I am still taking care packages to properties in need and the last pallet of pumpkins has just finished.”
Perhaps the most welcome news of all is that the proactive policeman said he was working to continue supporting Jericho and get help to where it was needed.
“This wasn’t the end but a start – the drought crisis is not solved, but we have delayed some of it for now,” he said.
The complete message from Luke, showing just what the hand-up meant, is best read in his own words:
“There were attendees from Queensland Police, SES, Royal Flying Doctors, Queensland Rural Fire Service, Lions clubs (Emerald, Tewantin, Townsville), Men’s Shed Jericho, Bundy to the Farm, Country Women’s Association, Louise Laffey and her team at St Ursula’s Old Girls network, and Emma Cook from Rural Financial Counselling Services.
“We had volunteers for the face painting, a hairdresser who didn’t stop all day and music provided by multiple talented artists.
“Between the Men’s Shed, Lions and CWA ladies cooking up, they managed to serve approximately 250-300 meals per sitting, for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday and breakfast and lunch on Sunday.
“We even had free slushy and ice-cream, which was snapped up quickly!
“Without Bidfoods, Campbells and PFD food donations, it would not have been possible to cater for this event.
“We had approximately ten trucks and twelve trailers, 20-plus tonnes of sweet potatoes, groceries, bags, dog food, horse feed, licks and a truly enormous amount of fruit and vegetables – everything you could possibly think of.
“I have never seen so many strawberries and cherry tomatoes in my life!
“We had approximately five tractors and forklifts used to unload the donations, and the multiple trucks needed an army of persons to unload the hay by hand.
“Once the sun set on Saturday, police orchestrated the Blue Light bush disco.
“It drew the whole community together, with locals commenting they have never seen so many children in town in one location.
“We got to do the rain dance in the evening after the speeches and thanks were offered to all involved.
“Rough estimates of donations exceeded $40,000 but the total cost of food, time, fuel and hire of equipment would near $200,000 for the event.
“I want to thank ABC News, the Queensland Country Life and the Longreach Leader for attending and supporting the event.
“I want to thank every single person who helped, fundraised, donated money and time for this cause.
“This includes the Jordan Hotel Jericho, the Barcaldine Regional Council for use of the showgrounds, and Western Freight link for lending us a cold room.
“Without you all, this would never have happened.
“I have been in talks with Louise Laffey and the Lions Clubs.
“This wasn’t the end but a start – the drought crisis is not solved, but we have delayed some of it for now.
“I have future plans for supporting Jericho through this time and I am working to get the help where it is needed.
“Lastly, I want to thank our very own town nurse, Lesley Delandelles. I am grateful for such a wonderful person looking after this town and I am proud to work alongside you.
“All I can say is thank you.”