PREPARATIONS for this year’s Mingenew, Dowerin and Newdegate machinery field days are in full swing.
The McIntosh & Sons Mingenew Midwest Expo will be first up on Wednesday, August 15 and Thursday, August 16.
Midwest Expo event manager Taryn Winter said exhibitor sites were filling up quickly from several new exhibitors and long-term supporters.
The site layout will change slighlty this year to align with the networking concept of Connecting People, Building and Futures.
“We have strategically set the layout to create more inclusiveness for our smaller machinery arena exhibitors, allowing patrons easy access to all,” Ms Winter said.
“To enhance networking opportunities, key social venues have been included on the oval.
“The Market Stalls, Paddock to Plate, Family Interest Pavilion, Expo Bar, Main Stage and the Mingenew Expo Catering hub form a centralised meeting area with plenty to see and do.”
A Young Farmer Competition will be introduced this year and is to be held in the Elders Livestock Arena.
It will provide an opportunity for agricultural school students to compete in a friendly atmosphere in events aimed at providing them with skills for their future.
“We hope this will create a spectacle for the other regional schools that visit the Expo and spark some interest in a future in agriculture,” Ms Winter said.
The dry start to the season is always concerning for farmers.
The Mingenew event is a great opportunity for exhibitors to meet the customers face-to-face, regardless of the season.
Ms Winter said the Expo was a way for exhibitors to show their support for local projects, as the event was run by a not-for-profit organisation, with all profits returning to the community.
“For our farmers and families, it’s a vital networking portal – visitors can meet up with old and new friends, take the family away from the farm for a day or two, see some of the latest and greatest machines and agricultural innovations and take part in the livestock competitions,” she said.
“Families can enjoy all the entertainment on offer, including children’s activities, cooking demonstrations, family interest exhibits, fashion and great food and better company.”
Inaugurated in 1983, the Expo was initiated by Mingenew Lions Club member Bob Paskins.
He envisioned a venue for businesses to exhibit to the Mid West regional and remote communities, providing vital information and updates to those involved in the industry.
Recently celebrating its 35th year, the event is the largest agricultural field day in the region.
“The not-for-profit event is overseen by a skills-based, voluntary board of management who have a clear vision for the future of farming and a strong focus on agricultural innovation and technology,” Ms Winter said.
“It showcases the future of farming and agricultural technologies and plays host to some of the biggest names in the industry, providing an exciting insight into what the agricultural sector has to offer and highlights the technologies of tomorrow.”
Next on the calendar will be the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days on Wednesday, August 29 and Thursday, August 30.
Dowerin Events Management Inc event co-ordinator Suzanne Blay said preparations were going well, with their theme ‘Women in Agriculture’ being positively received by exhibitors and prospective visitors.
Ms Blay said many exhibitors were planning to incorporate the theme into their exhibitions.
“Tanya Dupagne, Rural Woman of the Year and Camp Kulin co-ordinator, will be opening the event on Wednesday, August 29 and our celebrity chef is Anna Gare,” she said.
This year the event will introduce a new Young Farmers Challenge, similar to Mingenew’s new Young Farmer Competition.
“We are introducing an 18+ Young Farmers Challenge which will see teams of four compete against each other in a series of tasks that farmers frequently encounter, but with a bit of a fun twist,” she said.
“Each team is timed and the fastest team will win the challenge.”
This year the event will also be expanding the photography section of the art exhibition including a Don’t tell the Boss! category which will feature photos of farming mishaps.
The organising community said the field days were vital to the sustainability of Dowerin and its surrounding communities.
“I think it’s fair to say the mood is a bit uncertain but hopeful we’ll see some rain soon,” Ms Blay said.
The Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days is a community-owned, not-for-profit organisation, with the vision statement being, ‘To better our community’.
“We do this through holding the Field Days events annually alongside other events which injects about $175,000 into local business from the purchase and hire of goods and equipment alone,” she said.
The event has a team of about 300 volunteers.
Every hour each volunteer works, the Dowerin Field Days donates $17 to their nominated club or organisation – returning close to $60,000 per annum to local communities.
“We also run annual funding rounds which enables us to donate a total of $30,000 into the communities,” she said.
“Between 2006 and 2016, $1.3 million was injected back into the community via grants, sponsorship and community donations.
“Also about $3m a year goes back into the local economy through visitor expenses on things such as food, fuel and accommodation, so with figures like these, it’s indisputable that this event is important to our region.”
The event has changed immensely since it started in 1964 as a way of fundraising money to build a dam to water the communities sports ovals.
Over its 54-year history, it has grown from a small show with 20 exhibitors into WA’s largest agricultural exhibition with 770 exhibitors and more than 25,000 visitors annually.
The last of the field days is the Newdegate Machinery Field Days.
The event, which falls on Wednesday, September 5 and Thursday, September 6 this year, already has exhibitor applications flying in.
Newdegate Machinery Field Days sponsorship and promotions co-ordinator Helen Steicke said some new and exciting sponsors were coming on board this year.
“The fantastic free children entertainment program is all set, including Supersonic Science as our major entertainment,” Ms Steicke said.
This year the co-ordinating team has confirmed the childrens’ entry will continue to be free.
Ms Steicke said the mood around the community was apprehensive and movement was slow with the dry start to the season.
“Some are waiting for hoped-for rain at the end of the month and some are steaming ahead with their programs and hoping for the best,” she said.
“We are a positive little community though, so spirits remain high.”
The Newdegate Field Days generate a massive influx of people to the town and support local businesses.
The funds created from the event go back into the community.
“As an isolated community we value this day where everyone brings their wares to us,” Ms Steicke said.
“Whether it’s farmers not having to leave town to view products, machinery and new innovations and technology or the general consumer not having to travel to see the latest trends or to buy products.
“It’s a great bonding experience for our town, we all come together to create this massive two days every year.”
Ms Steicke said the event knitted the community together and promotedthe town as a destination.
The Field Days are in their 46th year, from its small beginnings in 1973.