September 23, 2014
The 105ha grounds are at capacity as the 51st annual Henty Machinery Field Days get underway today, with a crowd of 60,000 keen to inspect more than $100 million worth of machinery on-site over three days.
More than 800 exhibitors will display their products on more than 1200 sites in what is now the single largest agricultural and open-air event in southern Australia.
Chief executive officer Belinda Anderson said the HMFD team would present an event maintaining a focus on agriculture and machinery.
“While last year’s focus was on celebrating our 50th anniversary, this year we look to agriculture in the next 50 years and what lays beyond the horizon technology wise,’’ Mrs Anderson said.
“We will officially open our new Agri-Centre today – it will feature a program packed full of guest speakers outlining robotic and automated intelligent systems, plus trade exhibitors.’’
Riverina company Moane Fitzgerald Constructions are partnering with the HMFD Co-operative to tar seal internal roads, and complete drainage and construction works to create an all-weather site.
Hume Bank is also providing two ATMs for exhibitors and visitors for the first time – one located near the Farm Gate Produce Market and the other at Hume Bank’s site.
Tired legs and heavy shopping bags will be relieved with two free shuttle buses operating around the site, stopping at eight designated points.
The field days will be officially opened by National Farmers Federation Competitiveness Committee and Drought Task Force chairman David Jochinke today from 11am at The Stump, in the centre of the field day site.
Also today, machines at the cutting edge of tillage, load handling and spraying technology will be showcased in the prestigious Henty Machine of the Year Award.
The award will be presented by Mr Jochinke to the most outstanding new piece of agricultural machinery exhibited at the field days.
The Country Lifestyle pavilion is packed with more than 70 exhibitors, arts, crafts, fashion and a full program of speakers and guest demonstrators.
Designers with a flair for converting natural fibres into wearable art will compete for $3500 worth of prizes at this year’s field days.
The Henty Natural Fibre Fashion Awards showcases designs using at least 70 per cent natural fibres with the winners announced about 1pm Thursday.
The ET (extra tent) will feature more than 44 exhibitors displaying a range of medical, clothing, education and household products.
A highlight of Country Lifestyle this year will be best selling rural author Rachael Treasure, of Tasmania, launching her latest novel.
Cooking demonstrations and talks by celebrity presenters, including the Bondi boys Luke Hines and Scott Gooding, of My Kitchen Rules, and Beechworth baker Tom O’Toole, will take place in the Farm Gate Market Produce Area.
The area will feature bread, cheese and wine to preserves, small goods, pastries, cakes, fruit, vegetables and gourmet meats.
Farm Gate Market Produce area spokesman Jason Crowley encourages visitors to see, hear, taste, touch and smell the Henty experience.
“Whilst Henty originated as an event for farmers showcasing their machinery and agricultural practices, it’s much bigger than that today, and caters for families and the non-farming community,’’ Mr Crowley said.
“There are so many things for families to see and do, smell, touch and just experience.
“With the field days falling in school holidays this year, it’s a great way to spend at least a day immersing yourself in the farming industry that Australia has to thank for our food and culture.’’
Competition is expected to be intense this year at Henty as the nation’s best sheep dogs and their handlers gather for the Pedigree Sheep and Yard Dog Trials.
Natural horsemanship demonstrations will be given daily by professional Parelli instructors during the lunch break at the Pedigree Pal Sheep and Yard Dog Trials.
Known simply as Macca to his fans, Australia All Over host Ian McNamara will drop into the field days on Wednesday, September 24.
The Henty Machinery Field Days Co-operative closed the runway in 2012, with all planes diverted to Holbrook airport, and a shuttle bus operating six times daily.
Visitors will still be able to take a helicopter joyflight with Wagga Air Centre pilot Chris Cabot.
Always drawing a large crowd, the display by the Henty and District Antique Farm Machinery club members is to focus on farm machinery powered by the engines made famous by British manufacturer, Perkins.
Henty Headlie Taylor Header Museum committee members will display a version of the HST header, which was originally unveiled at the 2014 Henty show and went on to revolutionise harvesting machinery on a global scale.
Each visitor through the gate will be eligible for the gate prize of a 2.3hp Honda outboard motor and Safari H20 fishing kayak from Aussie Boat Sales.
Prize packs of fishing lures and tackle from Fishooka, Practackle and White Knight, will be drawn each day at 4pm.
Gates are open from 8am to 5pm, with adult tickets $20, children 12 to 18 years $5, and children under 12 free when accompanied by an adult.