The tireless efforts of the late Joan Meyer in entertaining, educating and informing visitors to the Country Lifestyle pavilion over 30 years will be recognised this year.
The Joan Meyer stage will be officially dedicated at 2pm on Tuesday, September 18 by HMFD chairman Ross Edwards.
Country Lifestyle had its beginnings in 1965 when field day secretary Milton Taylor announced there was “an apparent need to provide something of interest to the farm wives’’.
The 1965 program paid tribute to the: “Department of Agriculture’s magnificent effort in arranging programs of interest to the womenfolk for the two days is especially appreciated and relieved the committee of no small burden.’’
In 1969, president Ernie Howard mentioned in his message: “This year the Riverina Group of CWA is giving us valuable support and assistance in arranging the Ladies’ sessions for both days. I am sure the ladies do not realise how grateful we are for this help.’’
Joan Meyer, representing the Riverina Group Country Women’s Association, was invited by the Zone 7 United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association to formally stage an annual ladies lifestyle section that year.
She organised a full two days of subjects of interest to the women on the land.
Care and maintenance of the family car for women was conducted by Col Carlon, of the Department of Agriculture.
ABC gardening expert Mr Peck spoke on the farm garden with plants, flowers and trees supplied by the Opara Nursery, Henty.
The Southern Riverina County Council staged a Cooking with Electricity demonstration, and the program was rounded out by a display of spinning and weaving by Mrs P Herford, Lockhart.
At the time, the field days committee announced the Women’s Interest program would be “a major contribution to the success’’ of the event.
Joan and her band of volunteers from the Henty branch of the CWA went on to organise fashion parades and demonstrations of interest to women for the next 30 years.
By 1972, the program was featuring celebrity guests – ABC broadcaster and author Pauline Holden headlined with her topic “Freezing of Food’’. Other guest demonstrators covered hand spinning, floral art, cooking and fashion.
The following year, the program had expanded to the extent it was held in a large balloon house, allowing an unobstructed view of the fashion parades and demonstrations.
In 1975, the Ladies Interest program was moved to a three-day format with topics ranging from handicrafts, hobbies and herbs through to cutting beef, pig and sheep carcasses.
As stalls often only had one person manning them, HMFD chief executive officer Doug Meyer suggested CWA members could sell the stallholders morning and afternoon tea.
Nancy Hill repurposed two old hard-bottomed baby prams into tea carts.
“Over the years the stallholders have been thrilled to see the prams coming and love this service,’’ CWA member Jean Bennett said.
“Photos have been taken to show family and friends how well they are looked after at Henty.’’
Across the decades, Country Lifestyle developed into two large marquees, each in excess of 88 metres in length, and located in Petticoat Lane.
It now operates from a permanent 125m long shed built in 2016.
The aim of the Country Lifestyle program was always to entertain, inform and educate.
The pavilion has been run by Lyn Jacobsen, Leonie Kohlhagen and a team of Riverina Group CWA members for the past 17 years.
Mrs Jacobsen said Joan had devoted her life to the women’s interest tent, spending the full 12 months preparing for it.
“If she heard of someone doing something different, she would be quick to contact them about coming to the field days,’’ Mrs Jacobsen said.
Lyn took on the roll when Mrs Meyer could continue no longer due to ill health.
HMFD chief executive officer Belinda Anderson said the legacy of Mrs Meyer’s tireless efforts had grown to become a permanent fixture on the site and one of the field days major attractions.
“2018 will again see over 100 exhibitors in the Country Lifestyle pavilion,’’ Mrs Anderson said.