September 28, 2015
Widespread rain not only added millions of dollars to the region’s winter crop but also buoyed the bottom line for exhibitors as farmers opened their wallets at the 52nd Henty Machinery Field Days.
The field days, held from September 22-24, drew a record crowd of 70,000 to inspect the “agribusiness supermarket’’ showcased by the biggest number of exhibitors in the field days history at 870.
A combination of fine weather and the school holidays in NSW and Victoria meant Henty lived up to its reputation as Australia’s single biggest outdoor agricultural event with record gates across the three days.
Widespread winter rain, bumper crops and high commodity prices prompted farmers to travel to Henty from every state in Australia, armed with their shopping lists.
Car parks were filled to capacity, with exhibitors reporting buoyant sales and solid follow-up leads.
The hot ticket items this year included cattle and sheep handling equipment, silage and fodder machinery, compact tractors and self-propelled sprayers.
The field days were officially opened on Tuesday, September 24, by 2015 NSW/ACT RIRDC Rural Women’s Award winner Cindy Cassidy, of Ariah Park.
HMFD chairman Ross Edwards said the event had generated much positive feedback from both exhibitors and visitors.
Mr Edwards said Henty had won an enviable reputation as the “friendly field days’’, with visitors commenting positively on the new amenities, agronomy plots and the Agri-Centre.
He said the quality of garments in the Henty Natural Fibre Fashion Awards was outstanding.
Mr Edwards said planning would now begin on the 2016 event, which would mark 40 years since it was moved to the permanent site on the Cookardinia Road.
A highlight of this year was the coveted Henty Machine of the Year Award being presented by Member for Riverina Michael McCormack to Neale Postlethwaite, TPOS Fabrications, for the Flatrack.
Highly commended was the Haze Ag fertiliser spreader from Richard Hazelton, Cudal, NSW.
In other awards, the K-Line Speedtiller Powerflex from K-Line Agriculture, Cowra, won the Tractor and Machinery Association Award for best new Australian designed and built agricultural machine.
Always a crowd favourite, the Exelpet/Pedigree three sheep field trial drew more than 100 dogs and their handlers from around the nation.
Laurie Slater, 81, of Murrumbateman, NSW, took out the event and set a new record by winning his fourth championship title in succession.
The Exelpet/Pedigree Murray Valley Yard Dog Championship was won by Bill Luff, Colac, NSW.
Deniliquin fashion designer Jane Frazer continued her past success in the Henty Natural Fibre Fashion Awards by taking out the supreme garment with a pure wool fluted skirt and lace bodice.
The competition drew more than 70 entries, including the first international entries from New Zealand, with the finalists announced on the Thursday.
Di Pellizzer, Woolloomooloo, won the millinery section, Amy Wilson, Corowa, took out the accessory section, Natalie Ratcliffe, Wodonga, won the crocheted and knitted section, and Maureen Hines, Wodonga, won the encouragement award for best student designer.
Staff at one of Henty’s biggest exhibitors, Hutcheon & Pearce, were busy with a constant stream of sales and inquiries on everything from toys to harvesters.
Wagga branch manager Andrew Lewis said the most popular item was the Gators (cross over utility vehicles) and self-propelled sprayers.
“We have a big cropping year and spraying is an important part of that so the self propelled sprayers were the talk of the field days,’’ Mr Lewis said.
He said demand for compact tractors from 23 to 70hp had doubled in the past 12 months.
“The toys and merchandise was very busy over the three days,’’ Mr Lewis said.
“This year our Human Resources department were looking for our ‘Top Gun Apprentices’, or mechanics of the future, with their own chill out zone.’’
Neale Postlethwaite won the Machine of the Year Award with his company’s Flatrac and had sold a unit before 9am on the first day.
“A lot of people have come to look at the machine after seeing it on the news on the Tuesday night,’’ Mr Postlethwaite said.
“There’s plenty of follow up leads.’’
South Australian Mick Chandler, of Les Brazier Special Vehicles, exhibited a modified car for wheelchairs at Henty for the first time, and calculated 1600 adults an hour passed his site on Wednesday morning.
“I was surprised at the numbers – we had an unbelievable response with inquiries from central Victoria through to the other side of Sydney,’’ Mr Chandler said.
“I had hoped to get product awareness and exposure out of Henty – I was so happy I want to book in for the next five years.’’
Tractor and Machinery Association representative Scott Maxwell said it was great to see plenty of interest in the new machinery at the 2015 field days.
Mr Maxwell said quoting activity had been high on balers and mowers while header sales had been forecast to be strong.
“Everyone is looking forward to a positive season and there is expectation this is the year they might make some serious money, and reinvest in new capital equipment,’’ he said.
Mr Maxwell said tractors of 130hp and above generated plenty of grower interest.
“The larger horsepower market has been down the last couple of years and this year we will potentially recoup some of those numbers.
Chris Newland, Hartwigs Griffith sales representative, said the large horsepower tracked tractors had generated the most amount of field day interest from summer and winter croppers.
“If it gets to Melbourne Cup Day and the weather pattern stays the same, there won’t be anyone in the area not smiling,’’ Mr Newland said.
Michael Mooney, parts interpreter for Hartwigs Trucks Wagga, was inundated with field day visitors buying Case IH toys.
“We had swarms of people leaving the shop – this is the first year Hartwigs have sold toys and we see it as a beneficial thing to keep doing,’’ Mr Mooney said.
New Holland corporate business manager Andrew Barrie said the field days had generated strong inquiry in round and square balers, and telehandlers.
“We’ve had people looking at compact tractors for the hobby and lifestyle market. There has been a lot of interest in the 100-140hp tractor range, but we’ve also had big grain growers look at 200hp for seeding next year,’’ Mr Barrie said.
“Things are looking good around here and it has been reflected in the inquiry.’’