There are a lot of new staff in the office and they're doing an amazing job getting their heads around what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.- Ali Slorach
A hard-working team has been working long hours to ensure the May Racing Carnival goes off without a hitch next week.
The to-do list is ever-growing and seemingly never ending, but you wouldn't know it when you talk to three of the key organisers.
Operations manager Kate Lindsey and event managers Glenn Scott and Ali Slorach took time to have a joke about the many hats they all wear during the event.
One thing they are all breathing a huge sigh of relief about is the easing of check-in restrictions.
"I think the main thing I was concerned about was checking the vaccination status of up to 20,000 patrons on Thursday, so that's a huge relief," Ms Lindsey said.
The trio said the loss of one of the "build crew" to COVID for the past week had been disappointing, but they believe they have enough staff for the three days of the event.
"It's all a bit nerve-wracking," Mrs Slorach said.
"If 10 come down with COVID on the Thursday, we can't physically replace them.
"We're not short staffed at the moment but we could be by the Thursday."
One contingency plan is for the three to utilise their own RSAs and jump in to give a hand if the need arises.
Ms Lindsey said there was plenty of action at the track this week, with about 35 to 40 people working hard to ensure everything is ready for day one of the carnival.
"We've got a lot of on-course contractors who are here getting our build ready," she said.
"They're setting up the marquees, ensuring they have power and there is lots of grog being moved around the course and other set-ups happening so we're full steam ahead for Tuesday."
Mr Scott, who helps co-ordinate the "build crew", says preparations began about two months ago.
He said a lot of planning goes into the timing of each step from ensuring the grass where marquees are to be set up is mowed, to arranging flooring and furniture in marquees.
"We probably started two months ago and the physical side started 10 days ago," Mr Scott said.
"It's like putting a jigsaw together - there's no good having a refrigerated container here before the tent that it is going into is put up."
In addition to that, there are changes that need to be made each night.
The main marquee is used for the ladies lunch on the first day, while it becomes two rooms on the Wednesday and three on the Thursday.
"More walls go in, the furniture changes. What starts off as three bars in that marquee on Tuesday becomes seven on Thursday."
The job of stocking fridges in the more than 30 bars across the track itself takes about three days, Mr Scott said.
During the carnival, staff known as "runners" will be busily milling about with trolleys full of alcohol to ensure they remain fully stocked.
On Thursday, there were plenty of people at the track ensuring the garden was looking pristine and - of course - the track.
"The track is obviously first and foremost," Mrs Slorach said.
"They do a fantastic job. They do a lot of work on this track and it holds up well for the three days of racing."
Chief executive officer Tom O'Connor said earlier this week he was hoping for rain on Thursday.
He said he was pleased the forecast showed some rain, which would mean the track would not need to be watered again until the start of the event.
When it comes to food, there are plenty of options for patrons, with a number of food vans on-site and an increased number of dining packages available.
The caterers will serve 500 people at the ladies lunch, up to 300 people for a sit-down menu at the platinum area and finger food to serve 600.
"We've got dining packages all over the course," Ms Lindsey said.
"There will be no shortage of food or booze on course any day."
Ms Lindsey said about six employees who usually work at the event each year were unable to work due to their vaccination status.
"That puts pressure on everyone because we have new faces," she said.
When the last patron leaves the track each night during the carnival, staff will clean up, reassemble any tents or marquees that need to be and replace signage on each and every marquee.
On the three days there are myriad jobs, from manning the gates, security, bar staff, selling race books and helping ensuring the facilities remain clean throughout the day.
Ms Slorach said the event would not be possible without the help from every person who volunteers their time or works during the carnival.
"We cannot deliver this event without the help of the incredible individuals who help us," she said.
"There are a lot of new staff in the office and they're doing an amazing job getting their heads around what needs to be done and when it needs to be done."
Mrs Slorach said key staff involved with the event loved being involved.
"Somehow we have all become very cohesive. I would say everyone who comes to work on this event does it for the love of the racing club," she said.
"For me, I love the racing club and I've been doing it for a long time now.
"When you actually stand back while it's all happening, it's a great thing to look at."
Mrs Slorach joked "the headaches are still to come" but it's clear this trio and their team of dedicated staff will take it all in their stride next week.
Organisers hope the event may be the biggest ever, with Mr O'Connor hoping for a record crowd of more than 15,000 on the Thursday.
"If we could reach a milestone of 15,000 on the Thursday, it would be fantastic for the club."
South-west accommodation providers have indicated they are sold out, with some choosing to stay as far afield as Portland.
Dianna McLean, owner of Allansford's Junction Hotel, said she sold out each year to return visitors.
However, she has received a flurry of calls from people keen to secure accommodation for the week.
"We've had more inquiries this year, that's for sure," Ms McLean said.
Gates open at 9.30am at the Warrnambool Racing Club on Tuesday.
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