All set for Australia’s biggest agricultural and open air event

September 21, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 6.03.26 AM

A bird’s eye view of the 105ha Henty Machinery Field Days site.

Record cattle prices, timely winter rain and a potentially bumper cropping season augers well for the nation’s biggest outdoor agricultural event, the Henty Machinery Field Days, tomorrow.

The 52nd annual field days, to be held on September 22-24, fall in the school holidays this year with visitors and exhibitors expected from around the nation and overseas.

More than 800 exhibitors representing over 3500 companies will display their products on over 1200 sites in what is now the single largest agricultural and open-air event in Australia.

The event is expected to draw a crowd of 60,000 visitors keen to inspect more than $100 million worth of machinery on the 105ha site.

Chief executive officer Belinda Anderson said the HMFD team would present an event maintaining a focus on agriculture and machinery.

Riverina company Moane Fitzgerald Constructions is partnering with the HMFD Co-operative to improve the site in a staged development plan.

This year major upgrades have taken place to the amenity blocks scattered around the site, including new showers, toilets have been installed near the bar area, and additional drainage and road works completed.

There are 10 showers and two dedicated parent and disabled facilities located in the centre of the field day site.

Hume Bank is also providing two ATMs for exhibitors and visitors, including at the bank’s site in Main Road and at the corner of 8th Farm Ave and 6th Ag Place.

Visitors will be able to pre-purchase their tickets on line. Simply go to the visitor’s page on www.hmfd.com.au and click on Buy Tickets, then follow the prompts.

They can also enjoy a free tea or coffee at the VIP guest lounge at site 545 on 9th Farm Avenue.

Tired legs and heavy shopping bags will be relieved with two free shuttle buses, stopping at eight designated points around the Henty site.

2015 marks 50 years since women’s interests were incorporated into the field days program, and the fact women are being encouraged to join as members of the HMFD Co-operative .

To highlight the milestones, RIRDC Rural Woman’s Award national finalist, Cindy Cassidy, of Temora, will officially open the field days on Tuesday, September 22, at 11am. The opening will include the presentation of the prestigious Henty Machine of the Year Award.

Machines at the cutting edge of tillage, load handling and spray technology will be showcased in the award.

Also present for the opening day will be NSW Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Land and Water Niall Blair, Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley, Member for Albury Greg Aplin and Member for Wagga Daryl Maguire.

Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack will represent the Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce.

Introduced last year, the Agri-Centre is next to the agronomy plots and will this year have the theme of Prosperous Farming in the International Year of Soils, with a packed program of guest speakers across the three days.

Included among the keynote speakers will be ABC Gardening Australia host, Costa Georgiadis, who has a deep commitment to improving Australia’s ecological well-being.

Always a drawcard, the agronomy plots are a partnership between Riverina and Murray Local Land Services to demonstrate current and soon-to-be-released canola, wheat and barley varieties, and showcase perennial pasture mixes and also phosphorus with nitrogen nutrition in canola.

The Country Lifestyle pavilion is packed with more than 70 exhibitors, arts, crafts, fashion and a full program of speakers and guest demonstrators.

To celebrate the golden anniversary of women’s interests at the field days, Country Lifestyle will host a daily fashion parade of 1965 garments.

Designers with a flair for converting natural fibres into wearable art will compete for $3500 worth of prizes. The competition has gone international this year with entries from an award winning New Zealand textile designer.

The Henty Natural Fibre Fashion Awards showcase designs using at least 70 per cent natural fibres with the winners announced about 1pm Thursday.

Cooking demonstrations and talks by celebrity presenters, including Courtney Roulston and Michael Weldon, of MasterChef, and Beechworth baker Tom O’Toole, will take place at the Farm Gate Market Produce Area.

Wodonga born singer songwriter, Brock Shirley, a finalist in the Melbourne Artist Showdown, will perform on the Farm Gate stage each day from noon to 1pm.

Also performing on the sound stage is a strong line-up of talented young performers from the Dreamfields Creative Youth Mentor program. These include Walwa artist Mia Bettio, who is recording her debut EP.

Competition is expected to be intense this year at Henty as the nation’s best sheep dogs and their handlers gather for the Excelpet/Pedigree Sheep and Yard Dog Trials.

Last year’s highly popular Parelli Natural Horsemanship demonstrations by senior Parelli instructors will again be held during the lunch break in the dog trials arena.

One of the few full-time professional female chainsaw sculptors in Australia, Angie Polglaze, will be showcasing this art form each day during morning and afternoon sessions near The Stump.

Visitors will be able to take 10-minute helicopter joy flights over the field day site and surrounding countryside 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 pre-1940 machinery, including a rare 1917 International Harvester Mogul 10.20 tractor.

Henty’s Headlie Taylor Header Museum committee members will display a version of the HST header to raise donations towards a $100,000 bronze sculpture depicting the pioneering inventor, Headlie Taylor, as a young man working at the anvil in his Henty farm’s workshop.

Each visitor through the gate will be eligible for the gate prize of two night’s accommodation for two at the Radisson on Flagstaff in Melbourne, to be drawn at 4pm on day three.

The entry barrel is at the front of the main HMFD office.

Gates are open from 8am to 5pm, with adult tickets $20, children 12 to 16 years $5, and children under 12 free when accompanied by an adult.