A bullish livestock market, packed program of entertainment and a full house of exhibitors will align for the 55th annual Henty Machinery Field Days.
The 105ha grounds are at capacity with the September 18-20 event expected to draw a crowd from almost every Australian state keen to inspect almost $120 million worth of machinery and goods on site.
Exhibitors representing more than 3500 companies will display their products on 1200 sites in what is now the single largest agricultural and open-air event in southern Australia.
Chief executive officer Belinda Anderson said the HMFD team would present an event maintaining a focus on agriculture and machinery.
Mrs Anderson said this year’s field days equalled the largest on record in terms of exhibitor area with 14km of shopfront.
“The interest in the field days from exhibitors and visitors alike continues to grow year-on-year with the site being the biggest its ever been in terms of physical area,’’ Mrs Anderson said.
“The HMFD team works hard to ensure Henty maintains its mantle of the friendliest field days, and our exhibitor and visitor experience continues to be enhanced.’’
Drawcards at the 2018 event will be the daily sheep and yard dog trials, Baker Seed Co agronomy demonstration site, 2018 Natural Fibre Fashion Awards, vintage farm machinery, natural horsemanship, reptile show and the Farm Gate Produce Market Area with entertainment by Dreamfields creative youth mentoring program.
The field days will be officially opened on Tuesday, September 18 at 11am by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chairman, Mick Keogh.
The opening will include the presentation of the prestigious Henty Machine of the Year Award.
Greater Hume Council will sponsor the Best Australian Designed and Manufactured Machine to be presented on Thursday, September 20.
Farm inventors, backyard tinkerers and students will display their innovative ideas at the Agri-Innovators site at the 2018 Henty Machinery Field Days, with the winner being announced on the Wednesday.
More than 800 national and international agricultural and commercial businesses will be eligible for the inaugural HMFD Exhibitor Awards at the 2018 field days.
Awards will be presented on Wednesday, September 20 to the winners of the Best Outdoor Large Commercial, Best Outdoor General and Best Indoor Exhibitor sites.
Mrs Anderson said the exhibitor awards would encourage site holders to strive for similar ideals during the field days.
“Many of our exhibitors put a lot of time, resources and effort into having their sites looking first class, to engage with field day patrons and potential customers,’’ she said.
“Cutting edge technology combined with innovative ideas and marketing techniques are continually being used at the event by businesses to capture new market share.
“We want to recognise and reward these businesses who take a great deal of pride in their sites.’’
Marking a century of tractor production by John Deere, Hutcheon and Pearce is set to celebrate in style with an outdoor site covering 180m, performances by popular children’s character George the Farmer, cake cutting and prize giveaways.
There will be outdoor and indoor displays of restored and classic John Deere tractors, from a rare 1918 Waterloo Boy owned by Ballarat farmer John Kirkpatrick, up to a 1800hp John Deere “smoker’’ owned by Allan Arthur, Albury.
The biggest Australian gathering of John Deere fans in the one spot will be held at 11am on Thursday, September 20, at The Stump, and culminate with the judging of Mr JD and Ms JD for Henty 2018.
Albury strongwoman Scout Symons will also attempt to pull a John Deere tractor on Thursday at 10am and 1.30pm at the vintage machinery site.
At Country Lifestyle, the stage will be the focus of fashion parades featuring garments from exhibitors daily at 11am and 2.30pm.
Designers with a flair for converting natural fibres into wearable art will compete for almost $6000 worth of prizes.
The Henty Natural Fibre Fashion Awards showcase designs using at least 70 per cent natural fibres with the winners announced about 1pm Thursday.
Instigator of the Country Lifestyle, the late Joan Meyer, will be honoured with a dedication of the Joan Meyer stage at 2pm on Tuesday.
The Farm Gate Produce Market will be a hive of activity with cooking demonstrations by chef Michelle Matusch, and featuring gourmet branded beef direct from regional producers.
Outside on the sound stage is a strong line-up of talented young performers from the Dreamfields Creative Youth Mentor program.
Competition is expected to be intense this year at Henty as the nation’s best sheep dogs and their handlers gather for the Pedigree/Nature’s Table Sheep and Yard Dog Trials.
An entertaining and educational display of natural horsemanship will be staged by regional stockman and showman Tim O’Brien, of the Boggy Creek Show, during the lunch break in the dog trials arena.
Among the exhibitors will be the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners with their merchandise trailer to raise much-needed funds for drought affected Australian farmers.
Bob Withey is a hands-on herpetologist with almost 30 years experience in breeding and displaying reptiles, and will conduct hourly educational shows with his array of snakes and lizards at the Snake Tails site.
The machinery demonstration area will operate again this year adjacent to the agronomy plots with machines operating every 30 minutes, including Brookfield Super Drill, JCB zero swing-tail excavator, New Holland tractor and John Deere R4045 self propelled sprayer.
Visitors will be able to take 10-minute helicopter joy flights over the field day site and surrounding countryside with Wagga Air Centre pilot Chris Cabot.
Always drawing a large crowd, the display by the Henty and District Antique Farm Machinery Club members this year will focus on the theme of 100 years of John Deere tractor manufacture with an outdoor and indoor site.
Each visitor through the gate will be eligible for the gate prize of $1000 of fuel courtesy TASCO Petroleum.
The winner will receive a Caltex Starcash card for $1000 worth of fuel (unleaded or diesel). Simply clip out the coupon in the official HMFD program and drop it in the barrel at site 727 in P block or 6th Farm Avenue.
There will be an ATM courtesy of the ANZ Bank on site 567.
Gates are open from 8am to 5pm, with adult tickets $22, children 12 to 16 years $5, and children under 12 free when accompanied by an adult.