OPINION: There were clear winners and losers in this year's regional field days circuit.
Now the largest regional field days in New Zealand, its roots stretch back to 1993 when Don Eade started it as an annual event.
Many of its features remain unchanged:
- Its location at Manfeild, which requires that a ‘paddock’ be transformed into a ‘mini town’ in a matter of days
- The line-up of farm machinery and tractors, hallmarks of the industry and to the people who come to see them
- The thousands of visitors and hundreds of exhibitors, united in their passion for a thriving agricultural community.
But, of course, the three-day event has also grown up over time.
Sales manager Cheryl Riddell says the event started with 230 sites occupied by exhibitors; now it has 550.
Businesses clamour to take part because of other exhibitors’ success, she says.
“For example, Lumberland got 74 leads to quote on farm buildings during the last field days, plus another 15 the following week.
“The opportunity is immense for businesses to connect with customers, and vice versa. It’s a great way for people to get what they need all in one place and to have some fun.”
This opportunity hasn’t gone unnoticed; other events have sprung up to make the most of the groundswell. The field days now rounds out NZ AgriFood Week, which started in 2016, and follows the rural games which began in 2015.
About 30,000 visitors regularly attend and events are held within the show, e.g. the National Excavator Operator competition that has been at Central Districts field days right from the start.
“The excavator competition is a lot more exciting than it may sound to some. Attempting to manoeuvre big machinery to do intricate tasks like pour a cup of tea is great entertainment, and the way farming machinery comes to life at the event like this is what makes it so captivating to visitors,” Riddell says.
The event requires an annual set-up of everything from basic infrastructure like water and power, to erecting hundreds of sites over a matter of days.
Cheryl has attended every event and says “It’s worth it”.