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29 July 2020
BY DYLAN DE JONG
A former Mallee Machinery Field Days president believes the deep-rooted history and community spirit at the heart of the key agricultural exhibition will ensure its longevity.
Organisers of the field days at Speed say cancelling the 42nd annual event was a disappointing outcome for farmers, exhibitors and the communities it supports.
But Kevin Emonson, a current committee member, believes the event’s ‘long and proud’ history is exactly why it will push on beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
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“We’ve got a good history. We’re known as being a friendly field day, which we’re proud of,” he said.
“Speed will get through this. We’re going to have to battle on.
“The Mallee is full of resilient people and we will look forward to getting back into it next year.”
Mr Emonson remembers at age 26 his family farm was the first site to accommodate farmers for machinery demonstrations for the inaugural event in 1979.
He said for many years the field days would be on a different farm before Speed’s Torpey family offered their farm to be the permanent site for the event.
“It was actually on our farm for the first one. The inaugural president of Speed Lions Club at the time suggested we have a demo day of machinery – and it just grew from there,” he said.
“We used to skip around from farm to farm originally – we lived a nomadic lifestyle.
“I remember we had 38 exhibitors and we boasted that we had $1-million of machinery on display – I think the first field day we had, we made $2800 profit and we thought we were on a real winner.”
Being immersed in the field days for its duration, Mr Emonson has seen first-hand the rapid evolution of farming technology.
“The field days has developed as the farming techniques have changed over the years,” he said.
“If you’d told people back then that we could sit there with our arms folded driving a tractor that was covered in computers telling you what’s going on with the machine, everyone would have laughed,” he said.
“The technology, the size and the capability of what a man can do in one day now is unreal. It’s a testament to the grain growing industry.”
Mr Emonson said the event had proven to serve as the biggest fundraising opportunity for the town of less than 100 and its neighbouring communities.
“The Lions Club won’t be able to support the community as strongly as we have in previous years,” he said.
“We’ll still support as much as we can, but we’re mostly going to be conservative with the amount of money we normally put out.
“One of the local schools sells coffee and they get about $6000 or $7000 over the two days – in a local community like ours, it’s pretty hard to save that much money.”
Mr Emonson said community support would be key to getting the event off the ground next year.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to keep it going. If we didn’t have community support, it wouldn’t run for 10 seconds,” he said.
“We’ll just come back to the drawing board and approach it with full vigour again.”
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The entire July 29, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire July 29, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!