Results from a recent visitor and exhibitor survey has New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays celebrating another successful year as preparations begin for their 50th anniversary event in 2018. In the survey, 96 per cent of visitors rated their experience of Fieldays 2017 as “good” to “excellent” and 92 per cent of exhibitors said they would exhibit again.
The iconic event, billed as the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, saw a record 133,588 people through the gates – its highest visitor number yet. Chief executive Peter Nation says he’s pleased with the survey results and proud he and his team pulled off another world-class event.
“This year we wanted to highlight how broad the primary industries sector is and I think that really came through in the variety of exhibitions and features we had,” says Mr Nation. “The Fieldays Careers & Education Hub is a good example of this, where you’ve got thousands of school students seeing and learning about what goes on in the industry in terms of jobs and education opportunities. These are the kinds of initiatives where you see just and how much the industry contributes on a global level.”
The figures for 2017’s Fieldays event show the impact it has not only on the Waikato region, but nationally and internationally.
This year’s event was held over four days, from June 14 to 17. Visitors came from more than 40 countries, with the biggest visitor day of 40,104 on Friday 16 June. There were 988 exhibitors across 1473 sites, nine of them international exhibitors.
Unexpectedly, Fieldays also reported 10 skin cancers found via the Health Hub visitor app. The Health Hub was a new area for 2017, designed to educate and inform Fieldays visitors about health issues affecting rural and urban communities. “The Health Hub was an interactive, fun space designed to put rural health in the spotlight,” says Mr Nation. “The fact that 10 skin cancers were picked up, along with several other significant health issues, was astounding. We’re proud to have been able to provide such a positive platform to raise awareness of the importance of rural health and possibly save a life.”
Sustainable practices have become an increased feature of Fieldays, and this year 47 per cent of the event’s waste was recycled and reused, preventing it from going into landfill. A record 11,000 people also travelled to Fieldays by public transport resulting in a noticeable reduction in road traffic.
“We estimate the public transport provided took about 5000 cars off the road. People were constantly telling us how much easier the traffic was this year,” says Mr Nation. As with other years, hundreds of volunteers ensured the four-day event ran smoothly. “There were 232 volunteers who generously gave their time to help this year,” says Mr Nation. “Every year we’re fortunate to have a large group of committed, skilled people help make Fieldays a success. We’re hugely appreciative of their efforts.”
Mr Nation says the theme for Fieldays’ 50th anniversary next year will be the ‘Future of Farming’. The 2018 event is shaping up to be the biggest and best yet, and will also celebrate the wide-ranging contributions Fieldays has made to the agriculture industry since its inception in 1968.
“We have a really proud history as a world-class agricultural showcase and it has come a long way from an event aimed at getting farmers together and bridging the rural and urban gap,” says Mr Nation. “Fieldays is continually looking to the future and the advancement of agriculture, agribusiness and agritech, and promoting the primary industries in New Zealand and around the world.”
A committee of past New Zealand National Fieldays Society presidents and members has been put together to help organise the 50th New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays, alongside extra events, a local museum exhibition and a history book.
The 50th New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays will take place from 13-16 June 2018 at Mystery Creek Events Centre near Hamilton.