OPINION: The East Coast Farming Expo has been home to robust conversations since its first event almost five years ago.
Organisers Dave Martin and Sue Wilson say they have had “really great comments from attendees, speakers and exhibitors”.
Martin says they started the event as industry-specific for East Coast and Hawke’s Bay farmers, and now they hear that this sort of targeted gathering is resonating with farmers NZ-wide.
“Time after time we hear how relevant and meaningful the expo is to those who attend, how it introduces new technology, provides new ways of looking at sheep and beef and introduces farmers to the latest innovations and ideas. That’s exactly what we set out to do.”
Former rural broadcaster Sarah Perriam was the keynote speaker on marketing premium produce, including a message about changing the public perception of farmers to one of passionate food producers.
Event manager Sue Wilson says the aim has always been for the expo, now in its fifth year, to be industry-specific so visitors and exhibitors could have quality conversations.
“We were pleased with the attendance and we now have great farming ambassadors in Hawke’s Bay and East Coast regions to carry the message for 2020.”
Major sponsors Eastland Group, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Rural News Group were joined by scores of speakers and exhibitors for the two-day event.
Wilson says the organisers will have a short break then start on the 2020 Expo. “It’s a year-round event in the planning,” she says.
This year saw a change to the layout that provided a more centralised hub for exhibitors, and the seminars held in a large marquee.
“We changed the date to take advantage of fairer, early-autumn weather,” Martin says.
“You can’t predict the weather but we had two days of sunshine which lifted the event.”
Newcomer exhibitors included Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).
Martin says continued growth gives the expo a head-start on the farming calendar.
“Industry leaders and attendees are prepared, due to the specific nature of what we’re offering, to make the journey here from all over New Zealand.”