Fieldays buzz set to continue

MARANNE TWENTYMAN, ALI TOCKER AND ANGELA CUMING
Last updated 09:53 14/06/2012
Mitchell Goff
BRUCE MERCER/ Fairfax NZ
FIELDAYS ROCKS OFF: A day one highlight at the agricultural show was the mechanical bull riding; Aucklander Mitchell Goff shows here how it is done.
BRUCE MERCER / WAIKATO TIMES Zoom
"Blue" with a blue eye owned by Graeme Strawbridge. Hamilton

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A hard frost and crystal clear skies have kicked the second day of Fieldays off to a chilly start at Mystery Creek.

A steady flow of visitors are flowing into the venue where retailers are hoping that the day one buzz continues.

With all the formalities of opening ceremonies completed Fieldays commercial general manager Nick Dromgool said it was time to get down to business.

"Last night I attended our International Agribusiness function and one retailer, a local manufacturer, achieved 80 per cent of last years total sales on the first day alone," he said. "That is a significant achievement."

He said gate staff were also reporting that visitors were leaving with many items ticked off the shopping list and clearly happy with their investments.

"Talking with those that have a longer history with Fieldays than I have it would seem that Thursday is traditionally the quietest day, but still we are seeing good numbers on site."

Coffee carts are dealing with long lines of customers hopping from one foot to another as they try to keep warm in the initial sub zero temperatures.

Solid trade and big numbers were racked up on opening day of the National Agricultural Fieldays but exhibitors were tight-lipped on sales figures.

The number of cockies and townies through the gate was up 2.3 per cent on last year at 27,088 with most streaming in through the frost.

That meant more wallets at the Mystery Creek site yet the verdict from big name retailers was mixed.

Suzuki national motorcycle sales manager Simon Meade said the first day of Fieldays had been positive, with a "good level of interest and steady traffic all day".

"It's probably been a better Wednesday than last year, by comparison," Mr Meade said.

"I think the farming community itself is probably in a better place.

"It's a state of mind. Even though dairy farmers' payout is less, most of the farmers that have come through this difficult period have adjusted their forecast for the lower payout.

"It's the same for sheep and beef farmers – they are not doing too badly," Mr Meade said.

"The motor vehicle industry is going very well but the motorbike industry is in a holding pattern. Quad bike sales have not changed for the last 10 to 15 years – quad bikes are a necessary tool."

Mr Meade said Suzuki had made sales yesterday, but preferred not to give figures.

But Oringi Protection Wear owner Chris Bousfield said while crowd numbers were solid, people were "more discerning with their cash".

Smaller ticket items such as gloves and socks were selling hot as opposed to big ticket items such as waterproof jackets, he said.

"Last year was our best year ever, but this year people are spending less with us.

"But it is still too early to tell what will happen. Last year we thought Saturday would be a quiet day and then all the townies came and spent up big."

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Horselands managing director Sherry Peko said she was happy with the level of interest in the equestrian supplies company. She believed the stunningly good weather had helped.

Ms Peko expected the busiest days for the site would be today and tomorrow.

Australian leather hats and waterproof Windemere Ariat boots were among the most popular items sold.

Kiwi favourite oilskin coats always sell well.

"People come back to Fieldays every year and buy oilskins."

Federated Farmers Waikato provincial president James Houghton said he thought the turnout on the first day was good, but he expected most farmers would be keeping their hands in their pockets for items over $500.

Yet the property market seems to be in a healthy position if you take the word of George Barton, from Century 21's rural and lifestyle sales section.

He had expected to be "bored" all day but was pleasantly surprised – there was a steady stream of enquiries.

"Already I have had an airline pilot, a sheep farmer and a retired kiwifruit farmer all inquiring about properties, genuine inquiries," he said.

"The bigger farms on the market, that area is still slow, but for smaller blocks, even one-acre bare-land blocks, we are getting a lot of interest."

Stihl Group business development manager Karol Stephens said her stall had a steady day.

"And people seem to be buying," she said.

"But overall, looking out on to the rest of Fieldays, I have noticed it is definitely more quiet, numbers wise, than last year.

"The Fieldays organisers will try and tell you different, but you can tell."

- Waikato Times

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