Last year Peter Skeers was pretty proud of the bar at Henty, nicely decorated with brewery company flags, signs and stickers.
But when he arrived on the Friday to pack away the promotional branding after the field days, he found the bar stripped bare.
“The field days are held just before the Deni ute muster so all our Henty flags, signs and stickers were turning up on utes,’’ Peter said.
He is the licensee at Henty and oversees the 12,600 litres of beer consumed at each field days.
Thirsty patrons can choose from three full strength, one mid strength and a light beer, wine and spirits.
“In the last two years, bar takings have been good – it is a long way from the days before breathalysers when we went through more than six 18-gallon kegs,’’ Peter said.
He is helped by a staff of up to 15 volunteers from the Henty Golf Club, with all funds raised going back to the club.
Peter sold his local butchery business eight years ago to become the green keeper at the club.
“I went from butchering meat to butchering grass,’’ he said.
“The Henty club has the best sand scrapes in the district.
“We have used the money raised at the field days for improvements on the course, including enlarging water holes, and improvements to the fences, shed and clubhouse.’’
Known as “The Booth’’, the bar at Henty was originally a canvas tent.
Once the bar became a permanent structure and beer was on tap, it was roped off to prevent children sneaking in.
This year, the road between the bar and steakhouse will be closed, with seating added so field day visitors can relax.
Peter’s connection with the field days goes back to the early 1970s when the event was held on private farmland.
He was invited by the Country Women’s Association to stage a carcass cutting demonstration in the ladies lifestyle marquee in 1974.
“The weather was so wet, all outside farm machinery demonstrations were cancelled,’’ Peter said.
“A fashion parade had finished and everyone was walking out of the ladies tent when there was a big clap of thunder.
“People rushed back inside the tent to get out of the rain while I had my meat cutting demonstration on.
“As a result, the organisers thought I was popular and asked me to do the demonstrations over three days in 1975.’’
Peter recalls another wet year at Henty when a thunderstorm resulted in the bark chip flooring floating out of the ladies lifestyle tent and into the nearby creek.
“People were sitting watching the fashion parade and holding their feet up off the ground,’’ he said.
Peter said the carcass cutting demonstrations were staged “just to fill in the program’’ but attracted much interest from both men and women.
“In those days, women knew a lot more about exactly what cuts to cook for certain dishes,’’ he said.
Peter and his wife Marlene bought the Henty Butchery in the late 1970s and began supplying meat for the field day barbecues.
“The original organisers of the field days had a lot of foresight in delegating all the services to local organisations to improve the town,’’ Peter said.
“The field days are a great way to raise enough money for the whole year without continually dipping into the pockets of local people.
“They have been absolutely magnificent for the community – the swimming pool and schools have benefited.’’
In years gone by, many deals would be done on machinery between sales reps and their customers at the bar.
“These days, many companies have their own coolrooms and provide complementary drinks on site,’’ Peter said.
“It’s not as busy as it used to be but I’m looking forward to the 50th field days – it amazes me how the event can attract that many people year after year.’’