Tuesday, 29 May 2012 15:52

Fieldays chief on ‘big learning curve’

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TWO WEEKS out from his first National Fieldays as chief executive, Jon Calder is a confident man.

Exhibitor sites have been sold out since January. Online ticket sales are progressing well. An impressive list of events and competitions – some now underway – is locked in.

However, Calder is not prepared to bet on the weather. “But people have always flocked to the Fieldays even though it has rained,” he adds quickly.

Calder, on the job four months, describes the time as “a big learning curve”.

“I’ve been a fresh pair of eyes, asking a lot of questions and challenging some of the things we’ve been doing,’ he told Dairy News.

Sponsored by ANZ and the University of Waikato, the National Fieldays will run at the Mystery Creek Events Centre from June 13-16. This year’s theme is ‘The Changing Face of Farming’. About 900 exhibitors will this year be on the 1400 sites on offer at Mystery Creek. Organisers are targeting 120,000 visitors during the four days.

Calder is confident Fieldays’ visitors will find plenty to see and enjoy next month. “We’re making sure there is something for everyone.”

A highlight of the Fieldays is its innovation centre. While no bigger than previously, it will boast a new design layout. Event manager Vanessa Richmond says the innovation centre has as “interesting entrant list”.

The event will also feature long-standing competitions – tractor pulling, fencing, excavation and forestry skills.

One event growing in popularity is the Ag Art Wear wearable arts competition in which  designers make creative and unique garments from rural products. 

Richmond says the event has grown over the years and this year a night show has been organised in Hamilton to show off the entries.

While the Fieldays are yet to kick off, one competition sponsored by the National Fieldays Society is drawing to a close. The No.8 Wire National Art Award began 12 months ago, challenging artists to create 3-D artwork mostly using 8-gauge wire as the sculpting medium. Richmond, who has seen some of the entries, says the competition has again produced incredible, complex and unique designs. Entries will be displayed at the Fieldays. The competition is organised by Waikato Museum and ArtsPost Galleries. 

National Fieldays also promotes community involvement. This year, small rural towns around Hamilton are again taking part in the Big Little Town competition.

 Each year, Fieldays invites local retailers to participate in a retail arts competition, dressing their store windows to reflect the event. 

Richmond says working with local visitor information centres and business associations, it challenges retailers to design and create an interesting and unique window display to showcase their stock, their staff creativity and their Big Little Town spirit. 

This year there is also something for householders to look forward to. The Letterbox Challenge is an opportunity to design and build an unusual and unique letterbox that reflects “our families, our heritage and our connection to our country”.

The competition is open to residents of Cambridge, Hamilton, Huntly, Matamata, Morrinsville, Ngaruawahia, Otorohanga, Pirongia, Putaruru, Raglan, Taumarunui, Te Aroha, Te Awamutu, Tirau, Tokoroa and Waitomo.

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