Otago Field Days site demand 'explosive'

Paul Mutch
Paul Mutch
The Otago Field Days are expanding way beyond the area in their name.

The field days are about to be held for the third time, having sprung up in 2016 as a new initiative from the Palmerston and Waihemo A&P Association.

They were initially called the East Otago Field Days.

''What started out as a small local event has clearly struck a chord with people,'' chief executive and A&P association president Paul Mutch said.

''The demand for sites has been explosive and has prompted us to extend our reach and make the event for all of Otago.

''The renaming has been very well received.''

In a recent article in the Otago Daily Times, Mr Mutch asked readers for feedback on whether the signage should also be changed, from East Otago's traditional green and gold to Otago's blue and gold.

''It looks as if a lot like gold and blue, but there's also a lot of support for gold and green. Blue and gold is leading at this stage.''

The organising committee would meet soon to discuss the matter, he said.

After the first field days, the committee realised it would need a larger site than the Palmerston showgrounds. It chose the Palmerston saleyards alongside State Highway 85, just west of the township.

Mr Mutch said the Waitaki District Council had been supportive and helpful with the grounds and communications.

''We're very, very grateful for their contribution.''

Many sites were already booked, some by exhibitors from as far away as Auckland and Tauranga. There was also particularly strong interest from South Canterbury.

Those who had taken part previously were now seeking larger sites for this year's field days, Mr Mutch said.

New ideas being put into effect included a ''green corner'' to showcase renewable energy sources, riparian planting and other practices to enhance the environment.

Volunteers had offered to speak about such subjects during the field days, Mr Mutch said. A timetable of events would be produced soon.

The advent of Mycoplasma bovis meant the field days would play a bigger part in marketing in rural communities, he said. Suppliers could no longer go on to farms as readily as they used to.

Having rural products and services gathered on one site was not only an opportunity for their promoters, but also a chance for farmers to socialise while checking them out.

''It's all about change,'' Mr Mutch said.

''That's where we come in. We learn things, too. That's the whole meaning of A&P. We are able to fresh up from the field days what's important to A&P.

''We're here to promote our region also. We get amazing comments about our region. We'll keep that going.''

The Otago Field Days take place on Friday and Saturday, October 12 and 13.

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