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23 June 2021
The entire June 23, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
By Dean Lawson
One of Australia’s largest agricultural and agribusiness field days is set to return to Longerenong next year.
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Wimmera Machinery Field Days organisers have pencilled the historic event into its traditional March slot and are busy exploring how they present it in a new COVID-safe environment.
At the helm of a field days return is new Wimmera Events Centre manager Vanessa Lenehan who has the job of luring international, national and regional exhibitors and patrons back to the Wimmera.
She is also in the front of a field days committee urging Horsham and Wimmera people to get involved.
Mrs Lenehan said she had worked as centre office manager since 2017 and after taking on the role at the start of June was looking forward to the challenge.
She has filled the role vacated by Murray Wilson who had steered field days operations for 13 years.
“I have some really big shoes to fill and while it’s a challenge, I like a challenge,” she said.
“I’m familiar with the organisation and operation of the field days and confident I know what’s needed. Thank you to Murray Wilson. He has brought many new ideas and concepts to the event.”
The COVID-19 pandemic forced Wimmera Machinery Field Days committee to cancel this year’s event after managing an 11th-hour presentation the year before.
The committee announced in March that it was working on a masterplan to future-proof the event, adding the break would be a catalyst in reshaping a format and presentation.
But committee president Sam Eagle said initial plans were to simply present a field days next year.
“We’re just concentrating on getting a field days out there for the community and getting it all back up and running,” he said.
“It is really an important event that brings in indirect money – even from people who aren’t directly involved with the field days such as accommodation providers and restaurants. It brings a lot of benefits into the community.”
Mr Eagle said planning for the field days took 12 months and a probe into next year had started late last year before gaining momentum in February.
He stressed strong community representation through volunteers was also an integral part of the field days.
“It’s a great volunteer event, including everyone from providing sandwich booths to manning the gates,” he said.
Mrs Lenehan said one of the key investigations in planning a return would be to assess what would be allowed to happen based on COVID-19 rules of the time.
“We will work a few scenarios around restrictions we have to deal with and then work out how it’s going to look,” she said.
Mr Eagle: “We probably won’t be allowed to do everything we want and we don’t want to tell community we’re doing one thing and turn around at the last minute and say, ‘we got that wrong’. So, there is a bit to consider. Things like how many days the field days goes for are all up in the air. We’re starting afresh.” Mrs Lenehan: “It’s a good opportunity not so much to rebrand, but do something a bit different, change it up, try something else. But our main focus is going to be looking after exhibitors and ensuring we have a COVID-safe event.”
Mrs Lenehan said while the field days was the primary event at the Longerenong centre, there would also be an exploration of other events at the site.
“We have incredible facilities out there – pavilions that can hold events involving many people and large serviced outdoor areas,” she said.
Mr Eagle: “We need to make sure people know what is available. We’re reinvigorating the field days but also promoting the event opportunities the site presents.”
Mrs Lenehan said the prospect of a field days return was also ‘very’ exciting.
“I’ve only been in the role three weeks and still getting my teeth into considering what we can do. While agribusiness remains the major focus, we’re certainly open to any new ideas,” she said.
People keen to get involved can call Mrs Lenehan at the field days office on 5384 7210 or 0437 588 306 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.