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Mypolonga celebrates AgTown of the Year win


With floodwaters receding, the small River Murray town has finally been able to get together to officially celebrate being South Australia’s 2022 Agricultural Town of the Year.

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President of the Mypolonga Progress Association Steve Hein said the town began preparing for the flood on the same weekend that it won the title at InDaily’s Regional Showcase Awards in November last year.

“We were awarded on Friday night, and on Sunday we were in flood mode, so it was really that quick,” Hein said.

At its height, the river breached levees causing submerged properties, blocked roads and flooded pastures that forced dairies to relocate to higher ground.

With water now receding and the “2022 Agricultural Town of the Year” sign erected on the main road into Mypolonga, the town finally celebrated its achievement at a town lunch at the Mypolonga Combined Sports Club on Sunday.

President of the Mypolonga Progress Association Steve Hein, left, at the Mypolonga community lunch with members of the community. Photo: Lara Pacillo

“It’s good to see the enthusiasm and vibrancy of the community — it’s a moment where everyone can sit back and relax again,” Hein said.

“It’s still been a huge effort to throw the event because so much of the district is still underwater. The flood hasn’t gone, but winning the award has definitely given people that extra momentum through these tough times.”

The free lunch was prepared by members of the Mypolonga Progress Association and the more than 130 townspeople were joined by a number of guest speakers who shared words to commemorate the award while acknowledging recent and ongoing hardships as the town recovers from flooding.

The lunch also doubled as an opportunity to announce the local council’s Community Citizen of the Year, which was awarded to Ashlee Martin.

The floodwaters have yet to recede from the fields surrounding Mypolonga. Photo: Lara Pacillo.

Murray Bridge Mayor Wayne Thorley said the community of just under 500 people was thrilled and surprised to win the annual award that celebrates regional towns that excel in agricultural practices, embrace their farming culture, and recognise the positive flow-on effects that agriculture has on their community.

“They work very hard, but I don’t think they expected to take the top spot, especially being their second year as a finalist,” Thorley said.

“We are really grateful for the award. Mypolonga is a vibrant little community that is moving forward. The resilience they’ve shown after the floods has been remarkable.”

The community crowded the Mypolonga Combined Sports Club to finally celebrate being named the 2022 AgTown of the Year. Photo: Lara Pacillo.

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Clare Scriven said Mypolonga won the Agricultural Town of the Year Award for its diverse agricultural industry, as well as its entrepreneurial spirit, where businesses demonstrate experimentation, diversification and value-adding.

“During the AgTown of the Year judging, it was noted that Mypolonga really embodied the qualities that the judging panel were looking for,” Scriven said.

“From attracting young farmers to move back to the area, to the increased focus on diversified agriculture, and of course the fantastic agriculture curriculum at Mypolonga Primary School, which demonstrates the work that’s being done for encouraging the next generation of agricultural leaders.

“Throughout the AgTown judging process, the community spirit and innovative thinking of the town were extremely evident, as was the pride, passion, dedication, and commitment to making Mypolonga a great place to work and live.”

Scriven said the awards themselves are a way for the town to be acknowledged for its strong characteristics and achievements.

“Through winning this award, it is a good opportunity to get some of the stories known a bit more than they had been,” she said.

“It’s a matter of getting on — seeing what the need is and getting it done, and that’s something I certainly appreciate, and the regional community values, and clearly it’s been really evident here too.”

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