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28 August 2020
Uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has forced organisers of the region’s iconic Wimmera Machinery Field Days to abandon next year’s event.
The absence of the field days from the Wimmera calendar, which had been scheduled for March 2, 3 and 4, will be its first in 58 years.
Field days manager Murray Wilson said the event committee had cancelled the event based on the continuing pandemic and uncertainty surround restrictions for large-scale community events, current lockdowns and closed borders.
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“The Wimmera Field Days was the only major agricultural field days to be held in Australia in 2020 and organisers were looking forward to it being the first major field days to start up again in 2021,” he said.
“Disappointingly, due to the fluidity and ongoing uncertainties with coronavirus this now won’t be the case for the Wimmera,” he said.
Mr Wilson said Wimmera field days rated as Australia’s largest broadacre-focused agricultural event.
“We host over 100 exhibitors from interstate as well as many company reps from across Australia. With the current interstate travel restrictions in place and an unknown timeline for when border crossings and interstate travel will be freed up there is a certain pressure on decision making,” he said.
“The Wimmera Machinery Field Days is such a large-scale event we are not in position to leave decision-making until the last minute.”
Mr Wilson said estimates were that the field day generally had close to $300-million dollars of new agricultural machinery on display at Longerenong’s Wimmera Events Centre site. “Estimates are also that up to $50-million dollars in trade happens over the three days,” he said.
“The field days inject several millions of dollars into the regional economy each year. There will be hundreds of local businesses who in 2021 will not be able to receive much-needed revenue.
“This has been an unfortunate decision for the committee to make, knowing it would disappoint all our exhibitors, staff, contractors and suppliers, visitors, volunteers, sponsors and community groups who rely on this important annual event.
“Just as importantly, it will be a big blow to all our regional farmers and ag-industry professionals who benefit from the field Days who will now not be able to share information, view the latest products, learn about the newest farming technology and most importantly celebrate agriculture in the region.”
Mr Wilson said a priority had always been to ensure the health and safety of exhibitors, visiting patrons and the hundreds of volunteers involved in the field days.
“What this it will do, is it will put us in a position to be well prepared for the 2022 Field Days with a responsible COVID-19 safety plan and risk-management framework in place based on the latest advice,” he said.
“This will enable us to build an even bigger, safer and more impressive event next year.”
The Wimmera Machinery Field Days is a member of the Association of Agricultural Field Days of Australasia and the Ag Field Days arm of Victorian Agricultural Society and will continue to work with these groups in lobbying the state and federal governments for ongoing support.
The Federal Government today announced a $2.7- million support package for field days across Australia.
The development follows an announcement of financial support for agricultural shows earlier this year.