The traditional sight of hundreds of marquees and the familiar smell of wood chips is set to return to Mystery Creek on Wednesday, 30 November, when Fieldays opens its gates.
With the going underfoot likely to be moderately drier than the regular June dates, the event will officially open at 6am with a pōwhiri and the rising of the New Zealand National Fieldays Society and the Aotearoa New Zealand Flags. The rising of the flags will be followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony led by the Society's President James Allen and Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O'Connor.
The opening will end a 17-month hiatus after the June event was postponed this year, with large visitor numbers expected through the gates.
Last year saw record gate numbers on Friday, and 2021 was the second largest in the show's 53-year history, with 132,776 people attending over four days. It is a far cry from the first event that saw 80 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors.
The change from the event's traditional time, June to November, was a difficult decision for New Zealand National New Zealand Fieldays Society Chief Executive Peter Nation.
"We're still expecting big numbers this year as people look for ways in which they can get off the farm or have a family day out", says Peter.
On Wednesday, more than 1000 exhibitors will cover the Mystery Creek site, ready to show off their products and services, with the usual Fieldays deals being available just in time for Christmas.
Acknowledging the theme' Same, Same, but Different,' the event celebrates the significance to the rural sector and the farming calendar whilst acknowledging that it is being held at a different time of the year.
The event's return sees all the crowd favourites along with some innovative changes. One of the big new drawcards is the Fieldays Forestry Hub. The dedicated hub will allow visitors to explore the many facets of the forestry and wood processing sector and how the industry has a vital role in mitigating climate change.
Joining the Fieldays Forestry Hub is the refreshed Education Hub dubbed the new Opportunity Grows Here. The joint initiative between Fieldays and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) showcases the depth of New Zealand's thriving food and fibre sector.
"As the Southern Hemisphere's largest agricultural event, we have a duty to help futureproof the sector through educating people on where the opportunities lie in food and fibre, says Peter.
Food innovation will also take centre stage when a line-up of renowned celebrity chefs showcases the connection between where our food comes from and our primary industries, debuting online to coincide with the start of Fieldays.
The familiar favourites are also back with the latest innovations on show in the Fieldays Innovation Hub and access to free health check-ups in the Fieldays Hauora Taiwhenua Health and Wellbeing hub.
Catering for all facets of a rural lifestyle, from farmers to townies looking for a family day out, visitors can also expect to encounter the fiercely fought and unique agriculture competitions and demonstrations.
The classic excavator and fencing competitions are back, allowing competitors to win prizes and bragging rights until June 2023, when the next Fieldays event is planned. The crowd favourite tractor competitions this year reimagined as same, same but different, which will see a first-ever at Fieldays, allowing visitors to participate in the Fieldays Ag Drive Tractor Racing Experience.
“We’ve created another Fieldays first – a tractor racing experience that puts our visitors into the driver’s seat,” says Peter.
Sitting alongside an Ag Drive instructor, visitors will be put through their paces participating in modified tractor races, trying to beat the clock with all proceeds from the entry fee going to the Rural Support Trust.
“The work that Rural Support Trust does is invaluable. They’re saving lives and we’re so proud of the work they do for agricultural communities across New Zealand. We’re excited to see how much we can raise for their work while also giving people the opportunity to put their own tractor driving skills to the test,” says Peter.
Fieldays 2022 takes place in Mystery Creek, Hamilton from November 30 to December 3. Download the app (from Google Play and Apple stores) and plan your visit, use the interactive map, pin your car and look for useful things like your favourite exhibitors, water stations and food courts.