Newdegate Machinery Field Days returns in style
The Newdegate Machinery Field Days has returned in style, with a bumper crowd of more than 10,000 children and adults braving the cold and flooding through the gates during the two-day event.
Crowds of people filled sheds, pavilions and thoroughfares on Wednesday, September 1 — the first day of the event — with particular interest in the large volume of agricultural machinery on display.
Guests enjoyed fashion parades, livestock and working dog competitions, and live music, and wandered around the sprawling Field Days site, which included several different exhibitor areas.
This year’s theme was Growing Mental Health, which Newdegate Machinery Field Days president Craig Newman said meant a great deal to many people across both the Newdegate and Great Southern communities.
“The theme resonated exceptionally well, there have been a lot of changes during the past year with COVID-19 and people have been under a lot of pressure,” he said.
“The Field Days provided a great chance for people to catch up and relax.
“Our gate numbers were nearly the same as 2019, which shows that interest is still really strong.” With much of Australia in lockdown, organisers were thrilled the annual event went ahead after being cancelled last year amid COVID-19 restrictions.
Shire of Lake Grace president Len Armstrong said it was incredible to see the event back in action with “strong enthusiasm” after last year’s hiatus.
“It’s a great social outcome; it means people can travel from Albany, Bunbury and places like that to spend a couple of days in Newdegate catching up with family and friends,” he said.
“There is also a big financial benefit for the immediate community, and flow-on effects for towns like Hyden, Lake Grace and Lake King. It is all very positive.”
Newdegate Machinery Field Days treasurer Rocky Walker said volunteers were always the lifeblood of the event, with more than 218 volunteer hours paying more than $3000 to their charities of choice.
The third and final event in WA’s major agricultural machinery field day circuit, the Newdegate Machinery Field Days is well known for its high-quality livestock and wool competitions.
There were seven entries in the renowned State ewe hogget competition and 23 entries in the fleece competition, with judges applauding the quality of entries after a good season.
Dyson Jones WA manager Peter Howie said the mood was buoyant inside the Dyson Jones Wool and Technology Pavilion, with plenty of people flocking inside to keep warm.
“We have supported the Field Days for such a long time because Dyson Jones has operated in Newdegate for more than 40 years,” he said.
“We love the fact that we can support the local community and we are heavily involved not only in the Field Days, but also with the local community.”
The Field Days provided a great chance for people to catch up and relax.
Farmers buoyed by the good season kept concerns about frost at bay and opened their wallets, with machinery dealers reporting solid interest, particularly on day one.
There were several exhibitors with displays in line with this year’s theme, including Holyoake, Lifeline WA, suicide prevention advocate Storn Petterson, and The Regional Men’s Health Initiative.
Retired Australian cricketer Brad Hogg, who grew up in Williams, was a guest at the Lifeline WA and CBH shed — where he headlined the grain marketer and handler’s 4pm sundowner on Wednesday.
Hogg spoke bravely about his mental health battles after his retirement from cricket, attracting a huge crowd of farmers and agriculture industry figureheads to listen.
Former Field Days president and Ashley McDonald said the return of the event was “welcomed by everyone” and vendors were happy, with some saying it was the best yet.
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