The weekend of September 13 and 14 will bring all the excitement of the 62nd annual Riverland Field Days event.
What began as a small volunteer organised ‘field and gadget day’ on a fruit property in Renmark in 1958, has grown to into an event hosting about 300 exhibitors on its own purpose built site, now known as the Riverland Events Centre near Barmera.
Executive Manager, Mr Tim Grieger, a grower from Renmark himself, is immensely proud of the growth and development of the event.
“It’s always been organised by a volunteer team and to this day it still is,” he said.
“It’s an amazing team that comes from across the region that look after the site, prepare the site and set it up for the Field Days,” he said.
Mr Grieger highlighted that the Field Days offer something for everyone, with a diverse line up of exhibitors every year.
“The Field Days have grown into an event that has interest and attraction to pretty much every aspect of life from farming, horticulture, home, leisure, lifestyle, recreation; it’s all there. It’s an opportunity for everyone just to enjoy the experience,” he said.
As well as the commercial exhibits, there is plenty of entertainment on offer, including cooking demonstrations with celebrity chef, Peter Kent, a wildlife zoo, yard sheep dog demonstrations, wood chopping exhibition, the Kids Corner and Children’s Safari, and a music programme on the ANZ Stage featuring a performance by the Australian Navy Band.
For businesses it is an opportunity to promote their products and services, and showcase industry and technology development.
“We’ve all now got a smart phone, but now we’re seeing smart tractors, smart sprayers, smart weed control units, all using amazing technology to make the work more efficient and more economic, and what we’ve got on show at the Field Days are those types of machines,” said Mr Grieger.
Mr Grieger describes the event as “vitally important”, being the biggest of its kind in the region throughout the year, and contributing extensively to the local economy and regional businesses.
“It’s grown to the point where it’s not just horticulture and agriculture, it’s general business, government departments as well, and any group that wants to promote their activity, their interest across the region, the Field Days event is the opportunity that they have to do that,” he said.
It’s also a “coming together” and social time for volunteers and the greater community, especially in times of hardship like drought.
Keeping to the original volunteering spirit, the event invites local sporting clubs, schools, and social groups to be involved with offerings like drink stands and parking, and in this way returns more than $25,000 directly into the local community.
Other proceeds go back into the continued development of the site, which now has the facilities to accommodate much more than just the annual Field Days event, and is hired throughout the year.
“We estimate to replace that site value today on a commercial build basis, we would require $8 million,” said Mr Grieger.
“That’s been built by a volunteer team with an amazing history, with a vision and passion of what they wanted to achieve.
“It’s just an incredible story.”