As a member of the Pleasant Hills Rural Youth, Ross Edwards was roped into a job as a car parking attendant at the Henty Machinery Field Days in 1966.
More than four decades later, the mixed farmer from Yerong Creek, in southern NSW, is field days committee chairman.
Ross and his wife Heather, with son Phillip and daughter-in-law Nicole farm 1538 hectares and run the Pindari Bond stud.
The family dovetail almost 810 ha of wheat, canola and oats with 2600 Bond ewes. The entire flock averages 24 micron while the stud ewes cut an average of 8-9kg of wool. Up to 80 rams are sold privately and at the annual auction, held a week after the field days.
“I became chairman in 2007 and the reason I remember it is because Tim Fischer (former deputy Prime Minister) was saying “Kevin ’07, Ross ’07,’’ Ross said.
“I have a wonderful team doing an excellent job – they are not under me but beside me. My fellow directors are lifelong friends, it is great to see the younger fellows coming through and the comradeship.’’
Ross said learning from the broader agricultural community was a key benefit of his involvement.
“The field days are a tremendous thing for the Henty-Albury-Wagga region – it’s a pilgrimage for many people,’’ he said.
“Obviously many come along to look at machinery but others use the field days to meet up with friends.’’
Pulletop farmer Belinda Anderson was appointed as the Henty Machinery Field Days first female chief executive officer in 2013.
Belinda has worked in the role of company secretary for the co-operative since 2011, and has stepped to the CEO’s position.
A sheep and grain producer from Pulletop, Belinda farms an 1295 hectare family property with husband Garry and their four children and Garry’s parents.
The family crop 650ha of cereals and oilseeds and run 3000 first cross ewes.
Belinda started an administrative career with the Wagga Wagga Pastures Protection Board in 1988 as a junior clerk, finishing in 2008 as senior customer services officer.
“I spent three years working on the farm and studying before taking up the administrative role at Henty,’’ Belinda said.
Living just 25 minutes from the field days site meant the Anderson family have rarely missed the event.
“The kids love it, I like the social side while Garry always likes to have a plan, do the research and compare prices,’’ Belinda said.
“The field days have grown extensively since I first attended in 1984 as a student from St Pauls College, Walla Walla, and to now have the opportunity to help members and volunteers organise such an integral community event is exciting,’’ she said.
Graeme Hicks took up the role as chief executive officer in April 2011.
He came to the position after a long career in the organisation of major sporting events at regional, national and international level.
Graeme was seen as the architect of the Albury-Wodonga Festival of Sport from 1986-1992. He voluntarily co-ordinated the festival from 1992-1995, and from 1995-2002 while working for Albury City Council.
Graeme organised the largest contingent of athletes for the 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games in regional Australia. He was involved in the Olympic torch relay, 2000 Paralympic Games and the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
In 2010, Graeme assisted the Canadian Olympic Committee with the organisation of pre-games training.
He describes the Henty Machinery Field Days board as “salt of the earth farmers’’. “They are terrific people to work with – I enjoy the team environment,’’ he said. “I have had great guidance from the board and long serving field day employees.’’
Graeme admires the work completed by the many staff and volunteers over the past 50 years at Henty. “These people had the foresight to create an event we are particularly proud of today,’’ he said. “Going forward into the field day’s 50th year, there is room for growth and future development.
“From our point of view, we are building a strong foundation for the longevity and sustainability of the field days.”
Graeme lives with his wife Carol in Wodonga.
Heather Barrett – office co-ordinator
Born and raised in Henty, Heather Barrett has worked in the Henty Machinery Field Days office for the past 30 years.
In her role as office co-ordinator, Heather has watched the field days grow and evolve.
“Out of the blue one day, Doug (former CEO Doug Meyer) rang up and asked if I would like to work as a personal assistant,’’ Heather said.
Heather started in the office part-time from May to June, then full-time to field days time. “After the field days I work as presiding officer at Billabong High School, Culcairn, overseeing the school certificate and higher school certificate examinations.’’
Each year, Heather handles the site applications for Lyn Jacobsen and Leonie Kohlhagen in the ladies lifestyle pavilion and natural fibre fashion awards. “I’ve enjoyed working with the ladies in the office over the years and the 22 years I worked with Doug and the board members,’’ Heather said.
Accompanied by Chris Scheetz, Stephen Zweck and Sharline Bahr, Heather travelled to the New Zealand National Agricultural Field Days at Hamilton, New Zealand, in June last year.
Outside of the field days, Heather lives in Henty with husband Colin and is a long serving treasurer of the Henty Evening CWA.
Heather Bidgood – accounts manager
Raised on a beef property near Wodonga, Heather Bidgood joined the Henty team two years ago as accounts manager.
After leaving school, Heather worked for 17 years in a clerical and sales role for Haberechts Retravision in Albury.
She then spent four years working alongside her father, John Bidgood, on their beef cattle property, buying and finishing cattle for the feedlot market.
Heather moved back into the mainstream workforce, taking a part-time position at Designer Stone, in Wodonga, three years ago and continues to work at the business.
Two years ago she took on the part-time role of accounts manager at Henty.
“Henty is a lovely rural environment to work in,’’ Heather said.
“They are a fantastic, ethusiastic team with a strong vision for the future of the field days.
“The event is in a strong position going forward for the next 50 years.”
Kim joined the Henty Machinery Field Days team in 2012 as media manager after spending two decades reporting on the event as a rural reporter for The Border Mail and The Weekly Times.
An award winning senior journalist with The Weekly Times for 14 years, Kim was based in the Albury news bureau and specialised in livestock markets, stud stock, dryland and irrigated cropping, dairy, horticulture, real estate and general interest.
After a 30 year career in print journalism, Kim established her own digital media business, Outcross Media, at Albury in April, 2012.
She now specialises in freelance journalism, photography, video, website content and script writing for the stud stock, agribusiness and mainstream business sectors.
Bec joined the office staff at the Henty Machinery Field Days in April 2013 after working for an Albury stock agency for 18 months.
She and husband Denis Clancy have four children, and operate a farming enterprise at Pleasant Hills.
“I spent 12 years at home raising a family and helping Denis before undertaking a Diploma of Rural Business at the Riverina Institute of TAFE,” Bec said.
“I’d always had a keen interest in farming and agriculture so I jumped at the opportunity to work at the field days.
“My role involves booking in the exhibitors and finding sites for them.
“The lead up to the field days is hectic but the staff members are easy to work with and I really enjoy the work place.”