Field days crowd record

A record 38,500 people attend

NICOLE SHARP
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2014

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The long-term benefits to Southland's rural economy should be felt in the coming months with a record 38,500 people flocking to Southern Field Days.

Despite three days of unseasonable weather at Waimumu, near Gore, exhibitors spoken to were generous in their praise for the event, saying deals were done and handshakes exchanged.

Traders enjoyed strong sales, with "sold" signs in car and 4WD windscreens suggesting vehicle dealers were doing good business.

Southern Field Days publicity officer Justine Williams confirmed traders' sales for the three days had been steady and follow-up purchases would undoubtedly follow.

Despite mud taking over the grounds for the final day, almost 15,000 people flocked to the site yesterday for what was the busiest day in the event's history. The show is the biggest South Island rural expo, and a record 789 exhibitors showed their wares.

A feature this year was the newly built agri-centre, which hosted 180 exhibitors indoors.

"It [the agri-centre] could not have run any better, it was hugely user-friendly and we got nothing but positive comments," Mrs Williams said.

No major incidents disrupted the event, although some minor mishaps occurred in the car parks.

"Just seeing it all come together, we had happy exhibitors and talking to the public and getting all the positive feedback lets us know we have had another awesome show," Mrs Williams said.

The committee was already looking forward to the next field days in 2016 and planning would begin soon.

Sheep farmers Emma Butcher and Siobhan McIntyre said it was a huge and fantastic event, with "so much to see".

Southern Field Days chairman Mark Dillon agreed, calling it the best event yet.

The final of the tractor pull took place yesterday, with many people lining up to see which models had what it took to travel 100 metres pulling sleighs calibrated to dig deeper into the ground the further they went.

Members of the Highlanders rugby team had also turned out for the day, with Brad Thorn, Willie Ripia and TJ Ioane taking to the kitchen with Masterchef runner-up Jax Hamilton.

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- The Southland Times

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