Timely autumn rains across southern NSW have kick started the 2019 winter crop and a buoyant outlook for the 56th annual Henty Machinery Field Days.
The 105ha grounds will be at capacity, with the September 17-19 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 were expected to equal 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 2019 event will be the daily sheep and yard dog trials, Baker Seed Co agronomy demonstration site, 2019 Natural Fibre Fashion Awards, vintage farm machinery, reptile awareness display, and the Farm Gate Produce Market pavilion with cooking demonstrations and entertainment.
New to the field days this year will be the AgriFutures NextGen seminar facilitated by NSW-ACT AgriFutures Rural Woman of the Year Jo Palmer, of The Rock.
Guest speakers will cover the topics of women in agriculture, future proofing towns and businesses, agricultural innovation, machinery of the future and solving critical industry challenges
The field days will be officially opened on Tuesday, September 17 at 11am by AgriFutures Australia chair Kay Hull AM, with a welcome address by new HMFD chairman Nigel Scheetz.
The opening will include the presentation of the prestigious Henty Machine of the Year Award, this year celebrating its 45th anniversary, and an address by 2019 The Land Royal Easter Showgirl and HMFD volunteer, Stephanie Clancy.
Greater Hume Council will sponsor the Best Australian Designed and Manufactured Machine to be presented on Thursday, September 19.
More than 800 national and international agricultural and commercial businesses will be eligible for the HMFD Exhibitor Awards at the 2019 field days.
Awards will be presented on Wednesday, September 18 to the winners of the Best Outdoor Large Commercial, Best Outdoor General and Best Indoor Exhibitor sites (Country Lifestyle and Farm Gate Produce Market).
Mrs Anderson said the exhibitor awards encouraged 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.’’
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 $5000 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.
The Farm Gate Produce Market will be a hive of activity with cooking demonstrations by chef Michelle Matusch, and featuring gourmet products direct from regional producers.
Outside on the sound stage is the talented regional duo Happy Hour.
Competition is expected to be intense this year at Henty as the nation’s best sheep dogs and their handlers gather for the Pedigree Sheep and Yard Dog Trials.
The competition will be complemented by an entertaining and educational display of dog training during the lunch break in the dog trials arena.
The machinery demonstration area will operate again this year adjacent to the agronomy plots with machines showcased hourly.
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.
The display by the Henty and District Antique Farm Machinery Club members always draws a large crowd of both young and old visitors.
Each visitor through the gate will be eligible for the gate prize of $1000 of fuel courtesy TASCO Petroleum plus a five-day holiday to Surfers Paradise for two people courtesy of Swagman Tours.
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.
To win the holiday, clip out the coupon in the program and enter at Swagman Tour’s site R 874.
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.
Visitors will be able to pre-purchase their tickets on-line for $20. Simply go to the visitor’s page on www.hmfd.com.au and click on Buy Tickets.