Newdegate thumbs its nose at adversity

25 Aug, 2000 03:01 PM
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THERE has been little to sing about, season-wise, for the farmers around Newdegate. There have been flooding rains in summer and a hesitant late start for the winter, with still the uncertainty of a decent crop as spring approaches. But the tougher it is, the better the Newdegate field days committee likes it. Because, when faced with adversity, the tough get going. That is the rationale behind a record number of entries for the 2000 event on September 6 and 7, according to Newdegate's site managers, Bill Lloyd and Larry Pell. Not only have machinery dealers endured the average season with farmers, they have had the implications of GST to contend with and the ongoing debate on the value of machinery field days. When site bookings closed at June 30, entries equalled last year's record numbers ‹ but since closing, the few latecomers have burgeoned the numbers to more than 500, according to secretary Karen Spindler The Newdegate field days provides a shop window to the farmer ‹ a veritable supermarket of equipment and machinery ideas, innovation and technology. It has been a 28-year success story for the small community that forms a vital link to the remote south-east of the state. This year, the field days committee is headed by John Ashton, who has taken over from Meighan Stewart who had completed his three-year term as president. Meighan is one of three original committee members, along with Rusty Lee and Wally Newman, who are still actively involved in the field days. His contribution, including two terms as president, was acknowledged recently by a special presentation made by the field days committee. During Meighan's term, a major project, the new recreation centre, came to fruition. Since it was opened last year ‹ just in time for the field days ‹ it has had a new wooden floor and two basketball and netball courts installed. The facility attracted a Perth Wildcats fixture in June and about 350 people turned out for the game. John says his aim as president will be to improve field day presentation and make the event more professional. Noticeably different will be the area around the recreation centre, which will be asphalted. Inside, a major investment has been made in carpeting the surface for the exhibition. There will also be a new shearing and wool shed erected in time for the field days and the secretary's office will undergo a major upgrade. Most funds raised from the field days are ploughed back into the event. Sometimes a helping hand has gone out to various community organisations but John is sure no-one will begrudge the money being spent on the office complex. He says the unlined tin shed which serves as the field day office and bank has been long due for refurbishment. It has been listed for many years and, with the recreation centre finally completed, the money is available to insulate and line the interior. The field days will be officially opened by National Farmers Federation president Ian Donges and, during the two days, it will host a team speed shearing competition for the first time, fashion parades, family interests, art section, and two bands for evening entertainment.

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