‘Starch’ difference in prize money: GoFundMe account launched for women’s potato race

RACE FOR EQUALITY: The women's potato race is a popular event at the annual Robertson Show. Photo: File/Mindy Hindmarsh
RACE FOR EQUALITY: The women's potato race is a popular event at the annual Robertson Show. Photo: File/Mindy Hindmarsh

Strong support for a GoFundMe campaign proves gender inequity is no small potatoes. 

A GoFundMe page was launched on February 13 to raise funds to equalise the prize money for the women’s potato race at the Robertson Show.

In less than 24 hours, the page exceeded its fundraising target of $1450 with donations from both men and women.

Prior to the GoFundMe page, first prize for the women’s potato race was $200, second prize was $100, third prize was $75, fourth prize was $50 and fifth prize was $25.

Prize money was higher in the men’s potato race, with $1000 and a sash for first place.

Second prize is $250, third prize is $150, fourth prize is $75, fifth prize is $50, sixth prize is $25 and seventh to ninth prize is $10.

Melanie Tait, a former Robertson resident and daughter of Robertson’s Big Potato land-holders Heather and Neil Tait, started the GoFundMe account in response to the discrepancy.

“I was just on the web having a look at the Robertson Show website. I’ve always been interested in the potato races,” she said.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen the prize money. I was shocked.

“I ended up doing something about it. I mentioned it to a friend from Bowral and she suggested raising the money. I initially started [a fundraising campaign] on Facebook, then it became bigger.”

Robertson Show president Leesa Stratford said the committee was unaware of the discrepancy.

“It came as a shock to us, we had no idea,” she said.

“Like all potato races, we have wonderful and loyal sponsors. It’s great that people are thinking about the Robertson Show and I think the GoFundMe is a wonderful idea.”

“On the other side of the coin, how can it be competitive when it’s 50 kilos [of potatoes carried by men over the 400 metre track] and 12.5 kilos [carried by women over the 400 metre track]?” Robertson Show president Leesa Stratford said.

Ms Tait’s friend Sally McLaughlin said the GoFundMe page recieved a lot of donations because the cause resonated with people.

“I think people might’ve been surprised that in 2018 for something that is a community event, there is such inequity,” she said. “I think the show is a really good event. I just hope people are more aware [of inequities].”

Ms Stratford said the show committee intended to look into the discrepancy.

“We have to have discussions about how to maintain [equal prize money],” she said. “In this day and age, it’s a lot to ask a business for $1000, but we don’t have a problem with multiple sponsors.” Ms Tait said she hoped to see pay parity between the men’s and women’s potato races in the future. “If we raised more than we needed, it would be a good start for next year,” she said.

“I really want to work with the [Robertson Show committee] to make this equal. It’s a wonderful event.”

Visit www.gofundme.com/robertson-potato-womens-race to donate to the GoFundMe campaign.

The Robertson Show will be held at Robertson Showground from March 2 to March 3. 

The potato races will be held in the main arena at 2.30pm on Saturday, March 3.

Entry forms and fees are taken by stewards from 1pm to 2.30pm at the entry gate to the ring opposite the pavillion.