Winter rain across the mixed farming belt and strong commodity prices will combine with a full house of exhibitors at the 53rd annual Henty Machinery Field Days.
The 105ha grounds are at capacity with the September 20-22 event expected to draw a crowd of 60,000 keen to inspect $110 million worth of machinery and goods on site.
More than 850 exhibitors will display their products on over 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.
Riverina company Moane Fitzgerald Constructions is partnering with the HMFD Co-operative to improve the site in a staged development plan.
As the principal sponsor, the company has completed general road improvements to the overall site and exhibition areas in Petticoat Lane, and improved the toilet facilities over the past year.
As the Henty Machinery Field Days heads into its 53rd year, an economic impact study has revealed the event contributes $92 million to the national economy.
The study undertaken by Crowe Horwarth last year showed the field days created around $30 million in economic value and sustained 321 full-time jobs in southern NSW and northern Victoria.
The total spend from the field days is worth $56 million each year, or $92 million with the multiplier effect, sustaining 986 jobs nationally.
The field days draw 47.5 per cent of visitors from more than three hours away.
HMFD chairman Ross Edwards said the study had certainly spelt out the importance of the field days.
“Not only in this region but across Australia – to think this is the result of a one day header school in the 1960s makes one feel humble to be the leader of this massive achievement,’’ Mr Edwards said.
This year marks the 40th anniversary since the co-operative moved to a permanent site on the Cookardinia Road, east of Henty.
An old travelling stock reserve was transformed into a permanent field day site by thousands of hours of volunteer labour.
The first official field days were held in 1963 at the Henty showground and rotated around local farms in the following years before finding a permanent home.
Among the features for the 2016 event will be the popular agronomy demonstration plots.
Grain growers will be able to inspect 22 wheat varieties, including a potential replacement for Wedgetail, at the agronomy plots at this year’s field days.
The Henty Machinery Field Days Co-operative has partnered with Rutherglen company Baker Seed Co to present the latest wheat varieties for field day patrons.
HMFD chief executive officer Belinda Anderson said the management of the agronomy plots by Baker Seed Co would be a drawcard to the field days for those interested in cereal crops.
“Traditionally, the plots have been a highlight for farmers,’’ Mrs Anderson said.
“This display allows for farmers to view new and existing varieties and to also compare the plots to what is happening in their own paddocks.
“Henty is located in the heart of a mixed farming region and the plots will enhance not only the displays on site but the overall experience for visitors.’’
Farm inventors, backyard tinkerers and students will display their innovative ideas at the Agri-Innovators site at the 2016 Henty Machinery Field Days.
The entries had to meet the criteria of having a practical on-farm application, be based on an original idea of the entrant and not in full scale production at the time of entry.
Other drawcards at the 2016 event will be the daily demonstrations of the sheep and yard dog trials, 2016 Natural Fibre Fashion Awards, chainsaw carving, vintage farm machinery, and the Farm Gate Produce Market Area with entertainment by Dreamfields creative mentoring program.
The prestigious Henty Machine of the Year Award will be judged on September 19 and presented at the official opening on Tuesday, September 20.
To pay tribute to the nation’s dairy industry during its time of crisis, the field days will be officially opened by Australian Dairy Farmers vice-president and Wagga dairy farmer, Simone Jolliffe.
Hume Bank will offer one ATM at the pop-up branch on the Main Road (opposite the field day’s office) and the second ATM will be located at the intersection of Farm Avenue and 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.
Tired legs and heavy shopping bags will be relieved with two free shuttle buses, stopping at eight designated points around the Henty site.
Country Lifestyle is celebrating the completion of an all-weather site with a new 120m long shed with a sealed floor to accommodate 105 exhibitors with more than 481m of shop front.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the field days at the Cookardinia Road site, there will be vintage fashion parades featuring garments from the mid 1970s daily at 11am and 2.30pm.
Designers with a flair for converting natural fibres into wearable art will compete for almost $6000 worth of prizes.
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 Tom O’Toole and Caz Higgs, will take place at the Farm Gate Market Produce Area.
Kiewa Valley born singer songwriter and Telstra Road to Discovery entrant Maidie Dawson 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.
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 chainsaw sculptors in Australia, Angie Polglaze, will be showcasing this art form each day during the 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 Australian made machinery.
Each visitor through the gate will be eligible for the gate prize of $1000 fuel voucher courtesy TASCO Petroleum.
The winner will receive a voucher redeemable at Caltex Service Stations Australia-wide for $1000 worth of fuel (unleaded or diesel). Simply clip out the coupon in the official HMFD program and drop it in the barrel at site 727 in P block or 6th Farm Avenue.
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.