Stage set for a bonanza 50th anniversary field days at Henty

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September 12, 2013

With more than 1200 sites sold and 800 exhibitors booked, Australia’s premier mixed farming field days at Henty are set to break all records.

The 89ha grounds are filled to capacity with the September 17-19 50th anniversary event expected to draw a crowd of 60,000 visitors keen to inspect more than $100 million worth of machinery on-site.

Timely seasonal rain, combined with strong grain and livestock prices auger well for a spending bonanza by farmers on tillage, spray, fodder and harvesting machinery.

Last year, Henty sported a “new look’’ field days with exhibitors grouped into categories, making it easier for visitors to find their site of interest.

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


“Even though this is the 50th anniversary event, HMFD is embracing the challenge of keeping abreast of the agricultural needs of rural communities while planning for the future,’’ Mrs Anderson said.

Tired legs and heavy shopping bags will be a thing of the past with a free shuttle bus operating around the field day site, stopping at eight designated points.

This year, official proceedings will include a presentation by international machinery manufacturer CLAAS to mark its centenary and Henty’s 50th anniversary.

The field days will be officially opened by HMFD Honorary Patron Tim Fischer on Tuesday from 11am at The Stump, in the centre of the field days site.

Also on Tuesday, a record number of 30 machines at the cutting edge of tillage, load handling and forage technology will be showcased in the prestigious Machine of the Year Award.

National Farmers Federation president Duncan Fraser will present the award to the most outstanding new piece of agricultural machinery exhibited at the field days.

A Special Anniversary limited edition John Deere 150hp tractor will be unveiled on Tuesday to mark the field days 50th anniversary and the 60th birthday of Riverina machinery dealer Hutcheon & Pearce.

Henty’s history will be on show with a display of memorabilia and three vintage headers to celebrate the field days origins.

A self-propelled CLAAS, International A8-4 and Massey Ferguson 585, all sourced from Riverina farmers and in working order, will be on show in the centre of the field days site.

They represent the three original headers demonstrated at the one-day header school held on the Henty showground in 1961. The header school was the forerunner to the first official field days in 1963.

To celebrate the anniversary, the HMFD board has produced a documentary on the event’s social history with reflections by long-time volunteers, exhibitors, directors and farmers.

The documentary, Reflections of Henty – 50 years of the Henty Machinery Field Days, will be officially launched by former HMFD chairmen Milton Taylor and Colin Wood at an anniversary function on the Tuesday evening.

The Country Lifestyle pavilion is jam packed this year with more than 70 exhibitors, arts, craft, 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, and takes in knitted, crocheted, accessory and millinery categories.

The winners will be announced about 1pm on the Thursday, with all designers and models receiving printed certificates.

The ET (extra tent) will feature 41 exhibitors displaying a range of medical, clothing, education and household products.

A highlight of Country Lifestyle this year will be the Fifty Years of Fashion parade – a collection of special occasion garments drawn from local families and indicative of the years 1963-2013.

A keynote Country Lifestyle speaker will be Vivien Thomson, the 2013 RIRDC NSW/ACT Rural Women’s Award runner-up and author of newly launched book, “Ashes of the Firefighters’’.

A recipient of the Australian Fire Service medal, Ms Thomson aims to encourage the fire services to implement a program to increase the resilience of paid and volunteer firefighters.

A new initiative at this year’s field days will be talent search Voices@Henty on Tuesday from 12.30pm at the Farm Gate stage, on the southern end.

Headlining will be finalist on the hit TV show The Voice, Rick Kingswell, who will judge, perform and provide industry mentoring for the winners.

Talented musicians under the age of 25 will compete for a recording session from Albury Sound and Lighting, $500 from Henty, a guitar and gift vouchers from Megas Music Store.

Cooking demonstrations and talks by celebrity food and cider presenters, including former Masterchef entrants 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 co-ordinator Jason Crowley said the area added an extra tier to the field days.

“Take a day, maybe even the whole three and make the time to come and learn, taste, touch, smell and experience Henty as it is in 2013, and celebrate Henty from 1963,’’ Mr Crowley said.

South of the Farm Gate area is the schools mower pull track where NSW and Victorian teams will stage a two-day challenge.

The mowers – rated up to 17 or 25hp – pull a modified sled fitted with a 200kg weight box along a 50m track.

Competition is also expected to be intense this year at Henty as more than 200 of the nation’s best sheep dogs and their handlers gather for the Pedigree Sheep and Yard Dog Trials.

The Henty Machinery Field Days Co-operative closed the runway last year, with all planes diverted to Holbrook airport, but visitors will still be able to take a helicopter joyflight with Wagga 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 typically on show at the 1963 event.

Each visitor through the gate will go into the draw for a $1000 travel voucher to be drawn each day at 4pm (entry barrel at the information booth).

Gates open from 8am to 5pm, with adult tickets at $20, children 12-18 years $5, and children under 12 free when accompanied by an adult.