Manawatu District Council Mayor, Helen Worboys says the district is very proud to host the Central Districts Field Days because the region sees itself as the agritech hub of NZ.
The biennial event is returning to Waimumu, near Gore.
Now with more than 700 exhibitors and more than 40,000 visitors expected through the gates, the field days have grown from modest beginnings when it was first hosted by a local farmer in 1982.
Now occupying a dedicated 60ha site, owned by the Southern Field Days organisation, it will run over three days from February 12 through 14.
A few weeks out from opening day, organising committee chair Warren Ross said the planning was going well.
“I don’t think there have been too many hiccups as yet,” he told Rural News.
The event runs every two years, in the off-years between the South Island’s other big agricultural expo, Kirwee’s South Island Agricultural Field Days. The event is run by a 24-strong volunteer committee of past and present members of the Otago/Southland Young Farmers Club.
The local community is also heavily involved. It is an important fundraising opportunity for groups such as clubs, PTAs, rugby clubs, and Play Centres, who manage vital services like car parking, ticketing, and rubbish collection.
Ross says they “absolutely” could not do it without the volunteers.
Ross, who raises deer for venison and velvet on a family farm just 10km from the Waimumu site, has been on the committee since 2002 and is overseeing his first Field Days as chair.
He says they will have “a little over 700” exhibitors this year.
“And there is actually a waiting list to get in. We are out of room at the minute.”
The site is slightly larger, with an additional 10m by 200m strip, but Ross says that has allowed some exhibitor sites to be made a little bigger rather than cramming more in.
Around 40,000 to 42,000 visitors usually attend the show.
“We’re always hoping for a few more,” says Ross.
The site continues to be developed, with an increasing number of permanent facilities. A big new permanent toilet block, expected to halve the need for portable toilets, has just been completed in time for this year’s event.
The large AgriCentre building for covered exhibits is now into its fourth event, while the relocated and refurbished former Gore Play Centre building serves as office, meeting and kitchen space.
Popular features of the Field Days returning this year include the Tractorpull, the Innovation Awards and Fencing competitions. Another popular regular event will be the speed shearing on the Friday afternoon, culminating in the celebrity speed shear-off at 3pm.