WHEN I was a kid, we were a Tuesday family.
Now in itself, this wasn’t a problem, except my friend’s family were more of a Thursday kind of mob.
Nonetheless, we periodically found the stars aligned and we both found our families were heading to the Henty Machinery Field Days on a Wednesday.
When you’re a farm kid, the only thing cooler than visiting the field days was finding out one of your mates would be going on the same day.
When I was a kid, mud and rain were never a problem and I can’t imagine it has turned people off attending the 53rd annual event.
It takes more than muddy boots to dampen the spirits of field day visitors.
Today is the last day of Henty, which had been expected to draw more than 60,000 visitors to check out more than $100 million worth of machinery shown off by 850 exhibitors on 1200 sites.
Of course, there is so much more to see than just the latest in farm machinery, which probably explains why The Daily Advertiser reported this week that a study has revealed the event contributes $92 million to the national economy.
The study, undertaken last year by Crowe Horwarth, showed the field days created about $30 million in economic value and sustained 321 full-time jobs in southern NSW and northern Victoria, according to the DA report.
“The total spend from the field days is worth $56 million each year, or $92 million with the multiplier effect, sustaining 986 jobs nationally,” this newspaper reported.
Almost half of the field day visitors – 47.5 per cent – are drawn from more than three hours away.
I attended the field days as a kid in the 1970s and again as a reporter in the late 1980 and, saw year after year, the event grow in size and popularity.
If it was a great event back in the 1970s, it is a juggernaut now.
Organisers, exhibitors and visitors are all to be commended for their commitment to the field days.
Henty Machinery Field Days chairman Ross Edwards told The Daily Advertiser the study had spelt out the importance of the event, not only to this region but across Australia.
Mr Edwards went on, “to think this is the result of a one-day header school in the 1960s makes one feel humble to be the leader of this massive achievement”.
The field days have this year chalked up another milestone: It is the 40th anniversary of the event’s move to its permanent site on the Cookardinia Road, east of Henty.
Thousands of hours of volunteer labour have transformed an old travelling stock reserve into a permanent field days site and in the process created the home for an event which is a must-see for great swathes of the population of regional Australia.
The rain held off on Tuesday, but even as it tumbled down yesterday, spirits remained high.
Farmers are usually fairly fond of rain in September, and they’ve all been singing that tune “going to the Henty Field Days” in their heads for weeks now.
It’s as much a part of spring as canola flowers.
If you’re a Thursday family and you’re off to the field days today, I hope you enjoy it.
Field days mythology suggests that today is the day you’re most likely to pick up a bargain or two.