Farm Jam attracts stellar field of overseas riders
In the space of five years, Farm Jam has quickly developed into one of the most highly anticipated events on the Southland sporting calendar.
The annual two-wheel extravaganza, featuring mountainbiking, freestyle motocross and BMX might not pull in crowds as big as the New Zealand motorsport meet at Teretonga or a Stags rugby game, but in terms of international competitors and overseas media coverage, it would have to be right at the top of the list.
The story behind Farm Jam is a fascinating one.
Southland brothers Dan and Brett Frew originally set up the event on their family's 1300ha sheep and beef farm at Otapiri Gorge to have a bit of fun on the jumps and tracks in their backyard with their mates.
They eventually made the decision to open it up to the public and since then it has grown in popularity and prestige and is now widely regarded as the largest event of its kind in Australasia.
In its early days, Farm Jam only featured New Zealand-based riders, but the level of international riders has steadily increased as they have become aware of it and this year there will be a record number competing.
A stellar field of overseas riders has been assembled for Saturday's event.
They include Spanish freestyle motocross rider Mikael Milero, who formerly raced with the Red Bull X-Fighters, leading Czech Republic freeride mountainbiker Tomas Zejda and Australian BMX star Kyle Baldock, who lined up in last year's Summer X Games and was the top rookie on the Dew Tour, the leading event outside the X Games.
What many people do not realise is just how much international media attention Farm Jam receives.
Many of the leading industry magazines, websites, and film crews will be sending representatives to Southland to cover the event, which is not only fantastic exposure for Farm Jam but also the region.
Farm Jam is a classic example of good old Southland ingenuity and what can be achieved if you are prepared to dream big and make it happen.
The best action sports exponents in the world would have struggled to point out Invercargill on a map before the creation of Farm Jam. Now they make sure they are here every February to compete.
Farm Jam seems to represent the changing face of sport.
Adrenalin sports like BMX, motocross, mountainbiking and even the likes of skateboarding have really taken off in New Zealand and Australia over the last 20 years.
They're exciting, full of thrills and spills and appeal to the younger age demographic.
There's also some serious money to be made if you've got the skills to go professional and race overseas.
Farm Jam is a special event right on Southland's doorstep and something the province should be really proud of.
If you haven't checked out the action before, it's well and truly worth a look.