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Action-packed Fieldays promised at the 40th anniversary

Nicole Foster - 11/06/08

Fieldays runs from 11 to 14 June at Mystery Creek Events Centre in the Waikato, south of Hamilton.

Fieldays organisers are promising a 2008 event that is bigger than ever with something for everyone.

Aerial view of Fieldays site
Aerial view of Fieldays site
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Fieldays is the Southern Hemisphere's biggest agricultural showcase, comparable to farm shows in Europe and the United States in terms of area, exhibits and visitors. This year, the show expands to include around 1,000 exhibitors on nearly 1,500 sites with some of the best deals and latest products and technologies to be seen anywhere.

As Fieldays Communications Advisor I can report that surveys show that seeing the latest technologies and methods is one of the most popular reasons for visiting Fieldays. Fieldays is the primary event for launching new products and services. The Fieldays Innovations Centre is also popular, presenting agricultural and horticultural solutions of the future with the top invention taking away the Golden Standard award.

Seminar series
Fieldays' Strategic Partners, The National Bank and the University of Waikato, know that Fieldays is also a great learning and networking opportunity for farmers and cater to this with The National Bank Seminar Series, held in The National Bank Building on the Village Green, and the University of Waikato Seminar Series held in the Llewellyn Lounge with a special appearance by 'bug man' Ruud Kleinpaste on Thursday at 3.40pm in the Spantech Pavilion.

A range of competitions and displays bring town and country together
One of the original aims of Fieldays, and a goal that remains today, is to bring town and country together. Attractions around the event, including the Fieldays National Tractor Pull competition and supermodifieds, Ag Art Wear and Possum Fur Fashion Design shows, the Fieldays Wiremark & Cyclone Fencing Championships, AgTrader Sculpture Competition, STIHL Festival of Logging Skills and Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year competition all see rural and urban visitors rubbing shoulders as they gather to cheer on their favourites.

We have a great mix of people come to Fieldays. Along with plenty of non-rural visitors, the number of women attending has steadily increased over recent years. Women are becoming more involved in running farms and play a role in purchasing decisions. We have developed a number of features that appeal to new visitor segments to make Fieldays a complete experience, including competitions and shows and development of the Eastern Exhibition Area, where top quality lifestyle products are available at unbeatable prices.

Down on the river end of the site, the stock handling and machinery demonstration areas are also busy this year, with farming tool displays interspersed with universally popular attractions including fast riding from the New Zealand Cutting Horse Association and the Suzuki Extreme Air team.

Competitor in the Suzuki Extreme Air Team competition. Fast riding by a competitor from the New Zealand Cutting Horse Association
Competitor in the Suzuki Extreme Air Team competition.
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Fast riding by a competitor from the New Zealand Cutting Horse Association
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New to the area for 2008 are vehicle demonstrations from the NZ Army, police dog demonstrations and lawnmower racing with some colourful characters on amazing machines sure to entertain.

Rural skills on show
Fencing Championships

The Fieldays Wiremark & Cyclone Fencing Championships have been running since the very first Fieldays in 1969, bringing the country's best fencers to one place to compete for the Golden Pliers (singles) and Silver Spades (doubles) awards. Competition coordinator, Lianne Dunbar, says that the Fencing Championships are not only long-lived, but a key contributor to improving the fencing skills of farmers and contractors. "The Fieldays Wiremark & Cyclone Fencing Championships are an educational showcase as well as a competition," she says. "Since 1969, young fencers have been coming up through the ranks and learning from the more experienced competitors. The competition also shows off fencing skills used every day on the farm it's a great resource for farmers and lifestyle block owners who are doing their own fencing at home."

Ken Channing competitor in the Fencing Championship
Ken Channing competitor in the Fencing Championship
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There will be some familiar faces at the Fencing Championships again this year, with veteran fencer Owen Petersen determined to win back the Golden Pliers from 2007 winner Paul Van Beers. Competition is always fierce between the two long-time competitors with Van Beers aiming for his eleventh win at Fieldays' 40th event.

Paul Van Beers 2007 winner of Golden Pliers
Paul Van Beers 2007 winner of Golden Pliers
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To celebrate the milestone event, the Fieldays Wiremark & Cyclone Fencing Championships introduce a new challenge in 2008 with Silver Spades entrants fencing without the aid of powered tools. "It will be fencing the way it used to be," Dunbar explains. "The lack of powered tools will give us a real appreciation of how far fencing has come."

National Tractor Pull competition
On the other side of the Fieldays site, the Fieldays National Tractor Pull competition will roar into life on an improved track thanks to new sponsor, Interbloc. Tractor Pull competition Coordinator, Gemma Antoniadis, says that the tractor pull is one of Fieldays most popular competitions with visitors. "Surveys consistently show that visitors love the tractor pull," she says. "Redevelopment of the tractor pull area will provide better viewing opportunities for everyone."

The new Farm Stock competition will also be an attraction, particularly for new entrants and farmers wanting to have a go. Popular in Europe already, Farm Stock comes to New Zealand for the first time in 2008 at Fieldays. In this new class, tractors must be 2-wheel-drive, with no modifications to the engine or transmission, with modifications allowed to the injector, injector pump and turbo only in the Farm Stock Sport class. Event Chairman, Andrew Reymer, is enthusiastic about the new competition. "Basically, we hope that this will encourage some fresh interest in the competition and give people who haven't got the money to sink into super modifieds the chance to have a go," Reymer says.

Farm Stock will be joined by the standard Tractor Pull competition and the boy-racers of the agricultural world, the Super Modifieds. Heats for all classes run daily at Fieldays from 9am with grand finals at 1:30pm on Saturday followed by prizegiving.

Farm fashion for Fieldays
A little imagination paired with farm products, natural fibres or possum fur results in big money at the New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays.

Ag Art Wear, heading for its 14th year has become an institution, attracting amazing entries and capacity crowds to high impact fashion shows in the glare of New Zealand's biggest agricultural showcase.

The Avant Garde section, in particular, has developed into a fiercely competitive class in which art trumps tradition every time. Fieldays General Manager and founder of the Ag Art Wear Competition, Barry Quayle, believes that the Ag Art Wear competition offers fantastic opportunities for artists in other media to find new artistic outlets. "This competition goes far beyond clothing, craft or fashion design," he says. "I challenge artists to let their creativity run wild with an entry into the Ag Art Wear Avant Garde category. These are the designs that will surprise and challenge audiences and take away the top prizes", he adds.

Ag Art Wear is an agricultural fashion award competition, where designers are asked to create artfocused garments out of products, by-products and equipment "found" on the farm. The competition is made up of four categories; Under 21, Designer, Avant Garde and Landcare, in which artists have the opportunity to create art for the body using completely natural and untreated products.

Winner in the AG ART fashion competition
Winner in the AG ART fashion competition
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In celebration of Fieldays' 40th event, award-winning creations from past years will return to the competition and will be eligible for a special '2008 Ag Art Wear Supreme Award' along with all other entries into the 2008 competition. The Supreme Award brings with it $2,000 cash, in addition to substantial cash prizes up for grabs in the other classes.

Possum Fur Fashion Design Awards
In a related competition, roadkill hits the runway in the Possum Fur Fashion Design Awards. Entries for this competition use soft and warm possum fur to create garments from the mainstream to the wild and wacky. Designers can stitch up cash prizes and the competition always attracts plenty of attention from Fieldays visitors and media. Competition sponsor, Fur Dressers & Dyers (Westland) Ltd (formerly Gray Fur Trading) return to supply discounted fur treated and dyed to order for the Awards.

Model in the Possum Fur Fashion Design Awards
Model in the Possum Fur Fashion Design Awards
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Looking for 'Golden Standard' inventions
If you've ever looked at an agricultural or horticultural problem and seen an opportunity, the Fieldays Innovation Centre, powered by the University of Waikato, is looking for you. The search is on for amazing inventions, improved equipment and talented young Inventors, with a promise of cash prizes, profile and trophies, including the new 'Golden Standard' award which will be presented to the very best invention at Fieldays 2008.

The Golden Standard will go to the best entry from the Inventions and Young Inventors classes. The trophy comes with a $5,000 cash prize and young inventors are eligible for a $1,000 cash prize. 2007 inventions were also of a standard that resulted in two $500 merit awards being presented. Inventions sponsor, Straight Furrow, profiles each inventor, providing valuable publicity that reaches 90,000 New Zealand readers.

The Equipment section provides a fiercely contested class for improvements to existing products or for products that have passed prototype stage and are now available for sale. In this class, entries are featured in the Innovation Centre and around the Fieldays site on participating exhibitor sites.

'The Science of Farming'
The Premier Feature area, outside the Mystery Creek Pavilion on M Road, and in prime display space inside the Pavilion, will offer technologies and developments to a very wide range of Fieldays visitors with exhibitors covering developments from GPS to nutrition, research to organics.

The Premier Feature will offer visitors essential tools to increase their productivity and profitability on-farm, as well as showcasing the new product developments and advances that bring our nation success in high-value niche markets worldwide.

Premier Feature supporter, AgResearch and Strategic Partner, the University of Waikato are two of New Zealand's most innovative organisations and will unveil the latest research and amazing interactive displays at Fieldays.

AgResearch Chief Executive Dr Andrew West says New Zealand farmers have always been early adopters of technology driven by creative science and this has been key to their success.

"Increasing global demand for our primary produce makes it an exciting time for the pastoral sector. AgResearch is committed to helping New Zealand farmers continue to raise their productivity, profitability and sustainability through our research and development."

'Kiwi's Best' comes to Fieldays
All of our best home-grown food and beverage is destined for export markets, right? Wrong! As part of Fieldays 40th anniversary celebrations, 'Kiwi's Best' comes to Fieldays to showcase the very best products coming out of our farmers and growers.

'Kiwi's Best' is a new marquee, situated at the heart of Fieldays, that will feature some of New Zealand's finest food and beverage products in a package encompassing sampling, sales and cooking demonstrations, all under the watchful eye of celebrity chef, Al Brown. Brown will be familiar to many as co-owner of top Wellington restaurant, Logan Brown, and host of popular television series 'Hunger for the Wild'. Brown enjoys eating just about anything, but most of all, simple food, cooked perfectly. He believes that more time should be spent pleasing the palate than garnishing to please the eye. Chef Brown has created some special 'Kiwi's Best' recipes using ingredients available from 'Kiwi's Best' exhibitors, encouraging visitors to watch the demonstrations, pick up a recipe card and the ingredients and enjoy 'Kiwi's Best' in their own homes.

Brown's exclusive recipes will be supported by a packed demonstration and tasting schedule in the Kitchen Studio kitchen from other 'Kiwi's Best' exhibitors including NZ Pork, The Game Keeper, Kaweka Food Company and Southern Clams, featured on Country Calendar in April. Kiwi's Best is proudly supported by L&P World famous in New Zealand.

Don't miss the enjoyment and stimulating new ideas which await those who attend Fieldays in 2008 and the years ahead.

Images in this article were supplied by Fieldays.

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