Hundreds of volunteers who flip burgers, man the entry gates, park cars, wait tables and assist exhibitors at the Henty Machinery Field Days each year were rewarded for their efforts today.
Representatives of 26 organisations and not-for-profit groups from southern NSW gathered at Henty to be publicly thanked by the Henty Machinery Field Days Co-operative and share in more than $300,000 of donated funds.
HMFD chairman Ross Edwards thanked volunteer representatives for their efforts under challenging weather conditions at this year’s field days.
“It was a difficult year to run a field day but the thing I find most heartening is the young people, aged 14 to 30, volunteering,’’ Mr Edwards said.
“Other field day organisers have commented to us on the cleanliness of our site and amenities, and the hospitality of the people in the food outlets.
“That is what is unique about this field day, we keep it as local as possible to help build the regional communities.’’
The field days, held on September 20-22, raised more than $300,000 for the community groups from Henty, Culcairn, Holbrook, Walbundrie, Pleasant Hills, Brocklesby, Osborne, Mangoplah, Lockhart and Yerong Creek.
HMFD CEO Belinda Anderson also paid tribute to the generations of volunteers involved with the field days.
“Part of what we do is to keep the communities we are involved with, going as we know how important they are to the rural areas,’’ Mrs Anderson said.
“In turn, that supports our farmers.’’
Field day volunteer Stephanie Hanckel, of Henty, said the money raised was used to fund local charity work.
“I love the atmosphere, vibrancy, town filling with 56,000 people for three days a year, and the ambience of the field days – even in the rain,’’ she said.
Volunteer Michelle Fagan, Culcairn, said the funds raised filtered out beyond the local communities.
“It touches every person in some way,’’ she said.
John Knobel, Gerogery, and Terry Weston, Culcairn, now have three generations of their families attending the field days.
The pair has volunteered in parcel pick-up and at the entry gates for more than 20 years.
“There is a lot of satisfaction in volunteering – the field days are also of great benefit to all the towns in the shire and that money goes back into the community in so many different ways,’’ Mr Weston said.
Mr Knobel said the pair were almost “mini ambassadors’’ for the field days and Henty with so many visitors asking questions at the parcel pick-up.
Annette Schilg began volunteering at the western entry gate with Pleasant Hills Public School in the 1990s and now works with the Walbundrie Building Committee.
“We wouldn’t have the pavilion at Walbundrie sports ground if it wasn’t for the field days,’’ she said.
“It’s a pleasure to be part of something such as Henty.’’
Michelle Lieschke, of Henty Catering Association, is proud to be a volunteer at the event.
“The sense of community here is strong and that creates a high level of happiness,’’ she said.
“There are a lot of people working behind the scenes and often that is taken for granted.
“If we didn’t have the field days, the community would not be as well off as it is.
“We source all our ingredients locally for the food sheds – it’s about looking after businesses in our own communities.’’