Exhibitors toast the success of Fieldays

AARON LEAMAN
Last updated 05:00 18/06/2012
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How did this year's National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek rate compared to past years?

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A buoyant farming sector and big attendance numbers saw some exhibitors label this year's National Agricultural Fieldays the best ever – but not everyone managed a slice of the good times.

Another frosty but fine morning drew 30,292 visitors to the Mystery Creek site on Saturday, pushing attendance for the four-day event to 128,271.

Overall attendance was up 9 per cent on last year, with organisers saying the event's positive spinoff could be felt for months to come.

Andrew Giltrap, managing director of farm machinery dealer Giltrap Agrizone, said this year's Fieldays was "among the best ever" but the hard work had just begun.

Over the next month he would be following up inquires and sale leads.

"A lot of farmers have got their debt under control and are now looking at getting more efficiency in their business and that involves tractors and other machinery," he said.

Skellerup marketing executive Deborah Allan said her team was toasting a successful Fieldays, with sales peaking on Friday.

Although some farmers were hesitant about buying big-ticket items, Ms Allan said sales of gumboots and other footwear were buoyant.

"We ran out of stock of our men's red band gumboots which shows that our trusted brands are just as popular as ever."

Andy MacDonald, owner of Black Dog Furniture, said sales were comparable to last year but he had fielded more inquiries and "commercial leads" than during previous events.

His portable Black Dog Bar in the Entertainment Boulevard was a positive innovation which could be used at other events.

Jon Calder, chief executive of the Mystery Creek Events Centre, said exhibitors across the board had reported "extremely good sales" – with one retailer selling more than 50 vehicles in four days, up from 11 vehicles last year.

"The feedback has been a lot of exhibitors achieved their goals and sales targets and that's great because that's what we are here for," Mr Calder said.

There was some speculation prior to Fieldays, he said, about fluctuating agricultural commodity prices and the dairy payout, but farmers were taking a long-term view of their business.

"The impression we get is that farmers appreciate that when an asset needs replacing they will replace it."

Nomad Coffee owner Peter Allpress, a veteran of 13 Fieldays, said sales figures were yet to be tallied but he was prepared to herald this year as "the best Fieldays ever".

"There was good weather, good attendance and the logistics was good, I can't fault it."

But one kitset building supplier, who did not want to be named, said sales were down on previous events.

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"We've got a few things to follow but in terms of sales this is probably our worst Fieldays ever. It's just quiet among building companies."

Sandy Turner, Hamilton Central Business Association general manager, said members reported slower trading compared with previous Fieldays and more work was needed on how to leverage off the event.

"We always love the Fieldays and anything which showcases Hamilton is fantastic.

"We're looking at having a hosted fashion bus next year so people interested in fashion can spend the day in the city and meet designers.

"We have to make Hamilton a destination and give them a reason to come into the city."

- Waikato Times

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