Wrapping up Fieldays 2021

“This could well be the [most] significant show of its kind globally this year,” was the comment from Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern at her Fieldays TV interview on day one of Fieldays 2021.

It was the second biggest in the event’s 53-year history, with a total of 132,776 people attending over the four days to experience the true essence of New Zealand agriculture. On Friday 18 June alone, 44,044 people came through the gate – a record day that will go down in Fieldays history.

New Zealand National Fieldays Society CEO Peter Nation says that getting to opening day was no small feat and he was thrilled with the public’s response to this year’s event.

“Along with our loyal sponsors and exhibitors, the team of 5 million did the hard yards to get us to opening day, and we are extremely grateful for the support.

“The events industry is a huge part of our DNA, and this was reflected by the astronomical numbers of people coming through the gate.

“Beyond the numbers, the intangible factors that can’t be measured, such as the smiling faces and people reuniting and having a good time, tell me this year’s event was a huge success.”

Many people opted for alternative transport options to get to Fieldays this year. Over 14,000 people took the bus, with 292 trips taking place. Around 1,100 visitors also travelled to Fieldays in the Waikato River Explorer, with 536 catching the Camjet, and 94 people took to the skies, flying to Fieldays in a helicopter with Helicorp.

It was also the first time that Fieldays had staged a hybrid event bringing the best of the physical and virtual events together. The virtual extension of the event, Fieldays Online, returned off the back of last year’s success to connect with rural communities that are more isolated, or weren’t able to attend the physical event.

Once again, Fieldays Online was successful in bringing New Zealand agriculture to the world, with high visitation from Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and South Korea.

Some of the primary sector’s greatest minds put their ideas to the test at the Fieldays Innovation Awards, with a total of 64 entries on display in the Innovation Hub.

Winners included Springarm Products Limited with their ballcock arm that flexes and won’t break (Prototype Award), Cropsy Technologies with their AI enabled hardware that helps winegrowers monitor their crops (Early Stage Award and Young Innovator’s Award). IGS Limited was the winner of the Growth & Scale Award for their vertical farming technology. As they are based in Scotland and the United States, IGS Limited couldn’t make it to Fieldays due to border restrictions, though they were well-represented by the British High Commission.

Co-founder and inventor of Springarm, Ric Awburn, says he’s been “overwhelmed” by the high levels of interest and support they’ve received since their Innovation Award win.

“We’ve gone from exhibiting at Fieldays with a few ballcock arms and a bit of signage, to lots of emails and calls from people wanting to buy our product, news articles, and conversations with manufacturers. It’s a lot to take in!”

Ric manages a 500-cow farm in Te Kawa by day, and now, he makes ballcock arms by night. The Springarm (also known as the ‘farmer’s little saviour’) is now available to purchase on the Springarm website, and Ric says he and his wife Marianne are working hard to keep up with the demand.

Another aspect of the event in high demand this year was the Fieldays Health and Wellbeing Hub, run in collaboration with Mobile Health. An astonishing 33,000 plus people visited the Hub and received free check-ups and advice to meet every aspect of physical and mental wellness.

During Fieldays, 673 skin cancer spot checks, 364 hepatitis C tests, over 1,200 blood glucose tests, 722 blood pressure checks, and around 550 atrial fibrillation checks were just a portion of the check-ups completed at the Hub.

It has been calculated that the primary sector needs 50,000 skilled workers by 2025. To address this, the Fieldays Careers and Education Hub highlighted the wide scope of training and career opportunities on offer, inspiring school students or those rethinking their career options.

Over 1,600 school students visited the Careers and Education Hub, a fun and interactive zone to learn and be inspired by the wealth of opportunities available in the primary sector, hosted by GrowingNZ and supported by Inspiring the Future. A new feature of the Hub this year was the mystery panel event.

School students played ‘guess who’ to figure out the careers of four mystery role models in the food and fibre sector. This broadened their awareness of the wide range of options on offer as a result.

The iconic Fieldays competitions entertained the masses and demonstrated the high levels of skill and finesse from the best in the business.

The boy racers of farming went head-to-head in the Fieldays Tractor Pull and the skills and endurance of New Zealand’s top fencers were put to the test in the Fieldays Fencing Competitions. Waikato and Bay of Plenty excavator operators raced the clock to complete tasks to challenge their skill and precision in the Civil Contractors New Zealand Excavator Competition.

Those who missed the Fieldays action or want to explore more inspiring and educational topics can still do so through Fieldays TV, which is available on demand all year round at fieldaysonline.co.nz. Tune in to conversations surrounding latest news in the primary sector, learn a new recipe from New Zealand’s top chefs, or watch heart-warming stories from our rural communities.

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